Within the last six months, I have treated two patients whose visits to my office were among the very few times they had left their homes — in years. They are just a few of the million or more Americans who suffer from anxiety conditions or weight problems or psychotic illnesses that lead them to dread leaving the house. Some are literally housebound and never venture outside, even confining themselves to a single room or barricading doors and windows.
The housebound population is a kind of secret in America, because these folks are often embarrassed about their situation and don’t know how to get help for it. House calls, after all, went out of vogue decades ago.
Conditions leading people to be housebound include agoraphobia (an intense fear of crowds and being publicly humiliated) and panic disorder (sudden bursts of anxiety often accompanied by a sense of impending doom, rapid heart beat and sweating).