What is Agoraphobia?
Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder that involves intense fear and avoidance of a situation. This often has to do with leaving a certain space – usually your home – and having to face a situation that causes powerful anxiety and/or fear.
The fear and anxiety are frequently based on having previously had panic attacks within a specific situation, or feeling anxious or afraid that you will be embarrassed or trapped in that situation.
For instance, if you experienced an embarrassing situation in a grocery store, agoraphobia could cause you to feel anxious or fearful of returning to that store because of the chance that it could happen again. The same can be said if you have experienced a panic attack in a certain parking lot. That could make you want to avoid that same place due to the anxiety or fear that you feel of going through that situation again.
As the level of discomfort grows and the fear and anxiety associated with places rises, the number of places that are comfortable to you can start to shrink until you avoid quite a large number of them. In extreme cases, agoraphobia can lead a sufferer to avoid all but only a few places, or could stop them from leaving their homes, altogether.
The Symptoms of Agoraphobia Include:
- Being afraid of crowds
- A fear of open spaces
- A fear of closed in spaces
- A fear of losing control in a public place
- A fear of being alone
- A sensation of being detached from other people
- A sensation that your environment or even your body is not real
- A helpless feeling
- Feeling afraid that you will have a full-blown anxiety attack (leading to avoidance)
- Fearing physical sensations associated with the anxiety linked with those situations, such as: rapid heart rate, sweating, difficulty breathing, chest pains, dizziness, tingling or numbness in parts of the body such as the fingers, fainting, and others.
Panic Disorder With Agoraphobia
It is estimated that one of three individuals with panic disorders experience agoraphobia. The fear of panic attacks is among the primary reasons that avoidance of situations and places will occur.
If panic attacks are associated with a place or situation, many people with agoraphobia will stop placing themselves in those situations or going to those locations, in order to avoid what feels like a risk that it could happen again.
Treatments for Agoraphobia
To treat agoraphobia, exercise and proper breathing techniques are some of the most powerful self-help techniques that I recommend. These are highly effective for helping to step past the feelings and symptoms that come with the anxiety, fear, and panic attacks.
- Exercise is not only important to overall physical wellness, but it is also a fast-acting natural reducer of stress levels. Please have a look at my article “Why is Exercise Important to Mental Health?” to learn more about the impact of exercise on immediate anxiety reduction and how it can help you to treat your symptoms.
- Certain breathing techniques can help you to take control over your anxiety levels and rapidly bring them back down to a level that you can cope with. Please read my article entitled “Deep Breathing Exercises” for information and a video that will teach you some effective breathing techniques to reduce your anxiety and manage your symptoms.
To learn more about the many natural remedies that can help you to overcome anxiety, please read my article “Natural Anxiety Remedies”.
My article “How to Stop a Panic Attack” may also be helpful to you, so I recommend that you have a look. It provides you with some of the things that you can do to stop an anxiety attack in its tracks so that you will be able to reduce the fear and anxiety and, over time, teach your body and mind to naturally reduce and eliminate their trend toward these attacks.
How to Overcome Agoraphobia
If you have already received a diagnosis of agoraphobia or if you think that you may have this anxiety disorder, then it is important that you speak with a professional to get some help. There are many self-help techniques that you can use to overcome this disorder, but overcoming it the most effectively starts with the help of a professional
I usually recommend two forms of therapy for overcoming agoraphobia:
Both of these options are highly successful as agoraphobia treatments, as well as for PTSD and other anxiety disorders. They complement each other in treating the disorders and then empowering you to release your old beliefs that are leading you to experience these feelings, which may include trauma.
I Can Help
Agoraphobia is challenging not only for the person struggling with it but for their family members as well. Their lives become limited and they many never leave home. If they do it is a short distance from where they reside.
If left untreated, agoraphobia can make your world very small.
Know that there is hope. Agoraphobia is treatable. With the help of an experienced and qualified therapist who cares, you can free yourself from the symptoms of this anxiety disorder.
Skype sessions are available for those that are currently limited by their ability to travel and suffering from agoraphobia.