LAF has led to Agoraphobia


I am in my late 20's and have had LAF for about 7 years. I've only had like 5-6 episodes of Afib in my life, and none for the past 5 years. My episodes were caused by excessive alcohol and strenuous exercising, and twice I had to be cardioverted. I take Metoprolol Succinate 50 mg and a baby aspirin daily. 

To make a long story short, I don't really ever do anything that gets my heart rate up. I avoid alcohol, caffeine, heavy lifting & running, etc. like the plague. For someone as young as me, this really stinks. But the other bad thing is that my obsession with fear of an Afib episode has led me to fear everything and develop agoraphobia. I have anxiety about everything. Even leaving the house and going to dinner is now a chore. I am also afraid to travel more than 30 minutes from home. 

Can anyone offer me any advice or can anyone empathize with my situation? Has your Afib led to any anxiety disorders? 

18 Replies

  • Hi youngster, 

    Well you could researching Hypnosis. Doesn't always work for everyone but it worked for me.  I used it to stop smoking in 1985, in those days I was on 40 a day - I'm now 71and had I not done this I'd probably have quite serious health issues by now. Good luck.


  • I think hypnosis is very valuable 

  • I do empathise.  I have suffered from anxiety too although not to the same extent as you.  My advise would be to visit your Dr  and explain how you feel.  I have had CBT ( talking therapy ) and it has helped enormously with controlling my anxiety and negative predictions.  Your GP may also be able to prescribe you some drugs to help  if that is appropriate. 

    I'm all too aware how anxiety about this condition can make you feel but it doesn't have to be like that.   You do need to ask for help though - please go and talk to someone - I'm sure you won't regret it.

    Good luck!


  • Thanks a lot, Ruth. Greatly appreciate your reply. 

  • Sorry to hear you have so much anxiety.  I really do understand how you feel.  Once anxiety takes hold it is difficult to wrestle free from it alone.

    I have been seeing a clinical psychologist who specialises in health related anxiety.  I have found her exceptionally helpful, my GP referred me.  I originally had cognitive behavioural therapy but these one to one sessions have been even more useful.

    Please do not accept your current situation any longer, take action you will feel better for taking control.  It's not easy I completely understand but you can't live like this you deserve to be free from being tied emotionally like this.  

    Good luck, you can find a way to live with af in the background without it controlling your life totally.  Perhaps asking to see a cardiac specialist for reassurance might also help.  

  • Thanks for your reply. It's what I needed to hear. What is the difference in the health related psychologist you see and one that does CBT? 

  • The CBT that I undertook tended to use general self help techniques whereas the clinical psychologist really works to get to the root of the anxiety in a one to one environment.  It has been much more personally tailored, structured and effective for me.  Many people however find CBT helpful in itself .

    A psychologist will help you deal with the anxiety surrounding af but also get to the root of your response to anxiety and help with the agrophobia too.  Emphasise to your GP just how badly this is affecting your life and ask for a referral.  I was fortunate in that my cardiac consultant wrote to request my GP to refer me which was a boost. I was seen within a week or so which was amazing.

    Give it a go you have nothing to loose and everything to gain.    Try and get a good nights sleep and resolve to speak with your GP as a priority, you will feel better for taking control and having a plan. 

  • Hi,I  have an anxiety problem which I had before having A.F. Like yourself episodes are infrequent. I am having CBT at the moment and I feel I am coping better. We don't choose to be like we are and as you say it can make life unpleasant, however we can choose how we deal with our problems, and yes this is the hard bit. No one should be as troubled as you obviously are. you don't say if you have had any therapy but if not it is certainly worth trying. It can be a bit daunting as we have learned this behaviour as a way of coping with things,but a learned behaviour can be unlearned with practise. Please try to get professional help, and I wish you all the best . Kath.

  • I have had Afib/flutter since my early teens. I am now 81. When I first had an Afib episode I freaked. In those days no one even knew what it was or how to properly treat it. Now fortunately there is a real understanding of the causes and there are many treatments...and the best news is: you are not going to die from Afib. Try to keep that first and foremost in your mind. 

    You have seen a cardiologist if you've had 2 cardioversions. I agree with the other replies suggesting you talk to a professional about your anxiety and also talk to your cardiologist and get some medical reassurance that you are NOT going to die from Afib.

    You say it stinks to avoid normal exercise and activities at your age. Well, it certainly does! Also it is not at all healthy. What does your cardiologist say? Im sure he didn't suggest no exercise. If you have had 5-6 Afib episodes in 7 years, that is less than one a year. Your claim that the Afib was caused by heavy alcohol use and heavy exercise may be questionable. That may have aggravated and/or prolonged the episode. Clearly there is a great difference between a cocktail before dinner and a binge, but you know that.

    Is it possible that you feel guilty and blame yourself for indulging in activities that you believe caused the Afib? Feeling guilty could lead to your giving up everything as a sort of punishment. 

    Please get some help and get reassurance from your cardiologist.


  • Some real nuggets of wisdom there Joann. The last bit  had not occurred to me.

  • A very perceptive reply.

  • I have found mindfulness meditation a great help with my anxiety. Headspace (Google it) is a good place to start.  Also have a look at the "Human Givens" approach. There is also a book

  • I've been practicing mindfulness meditation (more of a watered-down Vipassana) for 20 years.  The practice has  stabilized my mind such that I can usually maintain an equanimous posture in the face of a debilitating and inherently depressing autoimmune disorder that eroded my self-condfidence and left me withdrawn and reclusive.  I'm glad to say I think I've found a cure for the physical aspects.  

    At any rate, if you want to get some insight into your anxiety and its underlying dynamics, adopt a meditation practice.  You might start by looking into Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.  There are programs all over the US, and I believe also in the UK.

    After you've completed the MBSR course (or something similar), then assess your need for CBT or some other therapeutic method.  CBT alone may not take you to the depth you need to go to unearth your underlying issues. 

    Stabilize your mind and you will develop a strength and resiliency that you can't dream of right now.

  • I'm a Psychorherapist.  I'd suggest you go and find a really good cognitive behaviour therapist and ask gp to fund it and providing they are on the gps list as a provider that should be ok.  

    Do you think the reason you drank and exercised to extrene was due to feeling low. ? 

    Good luck. You will get better I assure you. 

  • Some wise words above.  Taking the first step toward helping yourself is always the hardest.  It comes down to a choice - would it be better or worse to seek help or stay as you are?

    To answer you regarding CBT and psychologist - many clinical psychologists will deliver CBT - but CBT can also be self taught or delivered by someone with very little training.  Psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors who have undergone at least 3 years training tend to be (but you need to check their training as it varies hugely) much more thoroughly trained and may use CBT as part of their practice but as Meadfoot says, it will be a much deeper and personalised type of help.  Incidentally not all psychologists are CLINICAL psychologists, most tend to be research based so do distinguish.  

    As a now retired psychotherapist and clinical supervisor my advice would be to go onto the Internet and research, look for local people who can help but also those that offer telephone or Skype sessions or even email if you physically cannot leave the house.

    Choose someone who you feel comfortable with - trust your feelings but check out their qualifications as well.  Also interview them - go to Its good to talk website - the to research questions to ask - BACP is the largest regulating body for counsellors and psychotherapists whilst BPS is the psychologist's website in the UK. 

    I personally would not use a GP counsellor as most, but not all, tend to be in training gaining valuable client experience, something I did myself in my early years, but personally I do think your type of longer lasting and ingrained anxiety may take a little more than CBT.  Look for someone who specialises in anxiety and agrophobia, most practitioners will advertise their personal interests.

    Reaching out here was your baby step so well done, can you stretch that step just a little?

    Understanding your thoughts, feelings and fears may not always eliminate them, but it does help you to deal with them.  

    Keep posting, anxiety and AF are, unfortunately, very good bed fellows.  You are amongst friends here.

  • I can totally relate to your feelings. Im newer to a fib(5mo) so hesitate to offer advise as Im still learning. I too have anxiety re going places, riding my horse or exerting myself. Ive only had two a fib episodes , last one managed at home, so my brain tells me  to get on with my life, but the anxiety says otherwise. The more I make myself get out and do things, the easier it gets. With horse training there is something called desensitization. Its when you repeatedly keep exposing the horse to what its afraid of and eventually it quits reacting in fear. Thats my "self training" method.Lol. 

  • A Young fibber,

     if you can definitively find a trigger point i.e. excessive exercising, boozing, weightlifting etc. then It’s advisable to do this activity in moderation or avoid it all together,

    why box yourself into a corner being fearful of triggering an episode of Af,

    in many cases Af is random and will probably happen weather you live your life like a saint or a sinner…that’s not to say its ok to carry on with your current lifestyle, consider stepping up and taking responsibility for yourself

    You can see as many psychologists, therapist’s etc. as you like, ultimately it’s going to be up you to change what you do, which usually means hard work, there’s no magic cure, no one can force this on you, only persuade or guide you onto a different path, this is just my view and others will differ I suspect

                                                                           good luck

  • I agree with wheeler, AF is random. I've had AF since I was 25. It was left untreated for 20 years before I finally pushed for a solution. I cycle 3 times a week, and push my heart rate right up to close to max on some hills. When I have had AFib kick in on the bike, I am usually ok cycling back, just slower.

    Remember exercise is good for the mind, as well as the body, better to have AFib with a strong healthy heart, than with a weak one.

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