Are families affected by an individual�s panic disorder and agoraphobia? In addition to sharing the somewhat increased risk of developing panic disorder and agoraphobia, family members may be asked or coerced to take over responsibilities for the sufferer. Most family members want to be helpful, and it may seem insensitive or even cruel to refuse to help someone who is ill.
Permitting the affected family member to avoid appropriate family functions and responsibilities, however, actually makes the problem worse. It may seem less troublesome for family members to spend time carrying out the responsibilities of the person with panic disorder and agoraphobia than it is to put up with his or her constant pleadings and arguments. Once this process starts, however, it becomes so habitual that family members often view their participation as "just the way we do things in our family" even though the adverse effects of the patient�s avoidance may involve all family members.