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Agoraphobia

Macas
Macas Member Posts: 11 Connected
Hi. My wife suffers greatly from stress. Since our sons were born she has never gone back to work. I've asked her to as the industry I'm in is up and down all the time. The only money coming into the house is what I earn and family allowance. I feel the pressure a lot. When she goes to the doctor's it's it's just stress. She sits in the house all day and all week until I'm off work. She cannot even take the dogs for a walk. She gets really scared and goes into panic mode. I asked her to pick a prescription up once. She viewed never too do it again. She was dropping with sweat by the time she returned. Things are a little better on a weekend when I'm off but still it's out and back. Trying to spend time out the house is hard work. I be researched and found Agoraphobia. Is this something she could go to the doctor with?. Would it be possible to be put on the sick?. Would she be entitled to claim anything. Her mother gets on at her quite a bit. My wife says nobody understands how she feels. She just gets tablets for stress of the doctor. Any help and advice would be great. I 

Macas
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Comments

  • Adrian_Scope
    Adrian_Scope Posts: 8,168

    Scope community team

    Hi @Macas.
    Obviously we're not medical experts here, but someone I cared for over the course of many years was diagnosed with Agoraphobia and some of what you said does sound familiar. It sounds like your wife needs to go to the doctor, but it's very important for her to be honest. Would it be possible for you to go with her to the appointment, she might then feel more like she can talk openly and that'll hopefully help her get some support.

    Many people with Agoraphobia do successfully claim PIP and ESA/UC, but it would very much depend on how your wife is affected by her condition as these benefits aren't awarded based on diagnosis, but for PIP it will be awarded on how her daily life is affected by the condition and ESA will be awarded based on how her condition limits her capacity for work.
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  • April2018mom
    April2018mom Posts: 2,869 Member
    edited September 2019
    Hello @Macas

    Is she claiming benefits or not? It might also help her if she saw a therapist, this is one of the many MH issues they are trained to help with. Or she could start on a self help course. Exercise might also help her. Has she applied for benefits yet? People with agoraphobia do qualify for ESA and PIP as well. 

    Exposure therapy is particularly helpful. The concept is based on small goals set by a therapist. For example small talk with a stranger or a quick walk to the station etc. As she develops confidence, you can review and modify goals for instance a night out or a whole weekend away somewhere with you. 

    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/agoraphobia/treatment/

    For more information on exposure therapy, look at this link. 

    https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/overcoming-agoraphobia-lovell-1999.pdf

    Ask about exposure therapy. 
  • Macas
    Macas Member Posts: 11 Connected
    Thanks. No she's to scared to claim. I think they told her ten years ago that her stamp had ran out. She automatically assumes she won't get anything. She would be a wreck if she had to go for an interview. When she was working just after out first son was born her boss became horrible. She had a good case for bullying. She did not follow it through. The thought of it going to court filled her with dread. And on top of that she suffers from Alapicia. She has sent me 3 photos today of what has come out during a bath. 
  • Adrian_Scope
    Adrian_Scope Posts: 8,168

    Scope community team

    It sounds like her best option would be Universal Credit (and going for a Work Capability Assessment), Personal Independence Payment, or both. However, she would have to have an assessment for these. 

    It does sound like she needs to re-visit the doctor though, do you think she'd go again if you went with her?
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  • April2018mom
    April2018mom Posts: 2,869 Member
    @Macas would she go visit a doctor with you in tow or not? 

    Perhaps she could apply for PIP? There is a assessment process involved but Citizen’s Advice Bureau can assist with the form filling. Here is their number https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/contact-us/contact-us/
  • Macas
    Macas Member Posts: 11 Connected
    Sorry just got in from work. It's an hour's travel on a quiet day. I will discuss it with her tonight. She always feels like she is just getting fobbed off. Thanks for your help. 
  • April2018mom
    April2018mom Posts: 2,869 Member
    Let us know what happens @macas
  • dolfrog
    dolfrog Member Posts: 441 Pioneering
    Hi @Macas
    My wife also suffered from Agoraphobia when she was younger, what helped was understanding the cause of th anxiety attacks and helping her overcome the causes of her stresses. This was years ago now.
    Have a look at the Wikipedia Agoraphobia article at 
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agoraphobia 
  • Chloe_Scope
    Chloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,565 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @Macas, how did things go last night?

    I hope your wife is able to access more support, I appreciate it's difficult if your wife believes she wouldn't be successful in this.

    If there is anything we can do to support you then please let us know.
    Scope

  • Macas
    Macas Member Posts: 11 Connected
    Hi thanks. She still feels that she is not entitled to anything. She has to make an appointment with a female doctor and at a time I can be with her. She said she can speak to a female doctor more easily than a male doctor. 
  • Adrian_Scope
    Adrian_Scope Posts: 8,168

    Scope community team

    Hi @Macas. I hope she gets an appointment soon and she gets on okay. Please keep us updated and let us know if there's anything we can support you or your wife with.
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  • Macas
    Macas Member Posts: 11 Connected
    Thanks. She has an appointment next Monday at 8pm. I will need to read through the post again so that I can see what advice I have already been given. I thank you all very much.
  • April2018mom
    April2018mom Posts: 2,869 Member
    Macas said:
    Thanks. She has an appointment next Monday at 8pm. I will need to read through the post again so that I can see what advice I have already been given. I thank you all very much.
    Good luck!
  • Sam_Alumni
    Sam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,682 Disability Gamechanger
    Good luck to you both @Macas

    This is from the NHS website and might be useful to plan for the GP visit:

    Diagnosing agoraphobia

    Speak to your GP if you think you may be affected by agoraphobia. It should be possible to arrange a telephone consultation if you don't feel ready to visit your GP in person.

    Your GP will ask you to describe your symptoms, how often they occur, and in what situations. It's very important you tell them how you've been feeling and how your symptoms are affecting you.

    Your GP may ask you the following questions:

    • Do you find leaving the house stressful?
    • Are there certain places or situations you have to avoid?
    • Do you have any avoidance strategies to help you cope with your symptoms, such as relying on others to shop for you?

    It can sometimes be difficult to talk about your feelings, emotions, and personal life, but try not to feel anxious or embarrassed. Your GP needs to know as much as possible about your symptoms to make the correct diagnosis and recommend the most appropriate treatment.

    Physical examination

    Your GP may want to do a physical examination, and in some cases they may decide to carry out blood tests to look for signs of any physical conditions that could be causing your symptoms.

    For example, an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) can sometimes cause symptoms that are similar to the symptoms of a panic attack.

    By ruling out any underlying medical conditions, your GP will be able to make the correct diagnosis.

    Confirming the diagnosis

    A diagnosis of agoraphobia can usually be made if:

    • you're anxious about being in a place or situation where escape or help may be difficult if you feel panicky or have a panic attack, such as in a crowd or on a bus 
    • you avoid situations described above, or endure them with extreme anxiety or the help of a companion
    • there's no other underlying condition that may explain your symptoms

    If there's any doubt about the diagnosis, you may be referred to a psychiatrist for a more detailed assessment.



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  • Macas
    Macas Member Posts: 11 Connected
    Hi everyone. I went to the doctor's with my wife last night. She burst into tears. I explained to the doctor it has been going on for years. She said it was Agoraphobia. The doctor gave her a sick note for 2 weeks. Agoraphobic and enxiety. She said come back in 2 weeks or over the telephone and she will give her another note. Also a contact number for a local Help Centre. They will also help with filling forms in. Thanks for your help.
  • Adrian_Scope
    Adrian_Scope Posts: 8,168

    Scope community team

    I'm so glad she was able to get to the doctor's Macas. Well done for advocating for her and speaking up when she couldn't, it's not always an easy thing to do.
    I hope this is the start of things improving for you and your wife. Please keep in touch and let us know if there's anything we can do to help. :)
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  • Macas
    Macas Member Posts: 11 Connected
    Thanks. What does my wife now do with her sick note?. I do not have a clue lol

  • Adrian_Scope
    Adrian_Scope Posts: 8,168

    Scope community team

    Hi @Macas.
    This really depends on whether you're claiming anything, or whether she wants to claim anything. If neither of you are claiming anything at all currently, then your only option would be to apply for Universal Credit (as this replaces ESA) and she would provide the fit note to them. If she's looking to apply for PIP, you don't need the fit note. You can find information on how to claim PIP here, but you would generally call them up on 0800 917 2222

    Before you call, you’ll need:
    • your contact details, for example telephone number
    • your date of birth
    • your National Insurance number - this is on letters about tax, pensions and benefits
    • your bank or building society account number and sort code
    • your doctor or health worker’s name, address and telephone number
    • dates and addresses for any time you’ve spent abroad, in a care home or hospital
    Hope that helps, but let me know if you have any other questions!
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  • Macas
    Macas Member Posts: 11 Connected
    Thanks Adrian. I work. We don't get any other benefits. 

    Thanks
  • Chloe_Scope
    Chloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,565 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @Macas, I just wanted to echo Adrian's comment and say how glad I am that your wife was able to get to the doctors, it must have been difficult for her to open up. You also should be really proud of yourself, you have done an amazing job of supporting and advocating for her.

    Please do keep us updated. :)
    Scope

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