Hmm…seems what I’ve been suspicious of for some time just may have some validity after all.
Everyone who has Bipolar Disorder knows that in the majority of sufferers, it usually presents with a comorbid affliction. That is, another disorder that coexists simultaneously with BP. Anxiety disorders are most common, and to get even more granular, there are several disorders that fall under the general class of anxiety disorders. I’ve had panic disorder beautifully mixed in with my BP for my entire life. I was still in my teens when I received my first prescription for Xanax.
Agoraphobia is the abnormal fear of being helpless in an embarrassing or unescapable situation that is characterized especially by the avoidance of open or public places (thanks, Miriam-Webster).
Now Panic Order Mixed with Agoraphobia is a special flavor all to itself:
Panic disorder with agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder in which there are repeated attacks of intense fear and anxiety, and a fear of being in places where escape might be difficult, or where help might not be available.
Agoraphobia usually involves fear of crowds, bridges, or of being outside alone.
To some degree, I’ve had agoraphobia my entire life. Especially the fear of bridges. But, I noticed that my agoraphobia has gotten a lot worse since starting my latest drug cocktail about five months ago. Could one of the drugs be worsening my agoraphobia?
Enter the only drug I am taking that has any correlation with agoraphobia: Abilify.
The studies I was able to uncover weren’t large or prestigious or well-funded. Which means the drug company didn’t sponsor them. What I did find were a few reports to the US FDA that claimed Abilify did result in agoraphobia for several patients who were using the drug to treat schitzoaffective disorder, and a sampling of 18.5K individuals, where .07% reported having experienced agoraphobia while on Abilify. While this percentage is statistically insignificant, the demographics of those reporting the adverse effect were very close to home.
- 50% of those who reported developing / worsening of agoraphobia on Abilify did so in the first six months of treatment.
- Females accounted for more than half of those reporting the side effect.
- By far, the age of the highest percentage of those reporting agoraphobia were 40-49.
- Of those who were surveyed, the second most common reason for taking Abilify was Bipolar Disorder (Pain was #1)
- Among the top co-used drugs was Wellbutrin at #4 (Seroquel was #1)
This may be as far from a scientific sampling as you can get, but is there anyone else out there who has experienced either first time or worsening of agoraphobia since starting Abilify? I’d love to hear from you.