Through the years, fear is a word that we've used to describe so many different situations and yet never lose its contexts like fear of threat, fear of failure, fear of humiliation, fear of challenge, fear of change, and fear of the future.
Extreme fear of open or crowded places or avoidance of situations or places inducing feelings of panic, entrapment, and helplessness is a sign of Agoraphobia.
Most people are living in such a situation, so there must be a better way to overcome this phobia? Read this blog for detailed information about Agoraphobia.
What is Agoraphobia?
Agoraphobia is a condition that can lead to anxiety and panic attacks. If you suffer from agoraphobic fear, it is important not only for your mental health but also for safety reasons as well - if one of these situations causes an attack in them, they may hurt themselves out of sheer distress.
The fear of being in any situation where you might be trapped or could only escape with an embarrassing howler is Agoraphobia. You are afraid that your anxiety will get the best laugh it deserves and turn into a full-blown panic attack for all to see when faced with these circumstances.
Agoraphobia is a rare type of anxiety disorder that can keep you from living your life. If it's happening to you, the world might seem like an overwhelming place, and getting help will be difficult because there are so many things out in this huge universe waiting for us all at once. (Wittchen, H.U., Gloster, A.T., Beesdo‐Baum, K., Fava, G.A. and Craske, M.G., 2010)
There are a lot of situations where you can worry; for example, you can get panicked when you are in:
- Public transportation (train, buses, planes, and ships)
- Large open spaces (bridges and parking lots)
- Closed-in spaces (movie theaters and stores)
- Standing in line or in crowds
- Being outside your home alone
You get worried just by thinking of visiting that place.
If you have Agoraphobia and end up in a place that scares you, you might get panic attacks or become anxious. If you see these physical symptoms, then you may have Agoraphobia.
- Sweating, shaking, and trembling
- Feeling hot and cold
- Nausea or diarrhea
- Chest pain
- Fast, pounding heart
- Dizziness or feeling faint
- Problem swallowing
Scares that may affect your nerves may feel like:
- You're not in control
- You might not survive a panic attack
- It would be best if you were with someone you trust when you go anywhere
- You'll look bad in front of others (Hayward, C., Killen, J.D. and Taylor, C.B., 2003)
Doctors treat Agoraphobia by medication and therapy or the combination of two:
Therapy- It is the best way to help you feel calm and safe in dangerous situations. Cognitive therapy helps teach new ways of thinking about or facing a situation, relaxation techniques for when all feels lost at sea with worry thoughts - which happens more often than we know!
Sometimes our therapists suggest exposure therapy-in this type of treatment, we gradually start doing some things that make us anxious, like going out into the public by ourselves without protection from others who could hurt us.
Medication- There are many drugs that your doctor might suggest for Agoraphobia, but the most common ones to help balance serotonin and ease social anxiety are antidepressants like citalopram (Celexa), escitlaplamoxalate(Lexapro), fluoxetine Prozac sertraline Zoloft.
Doctors often start with a low dose of one; these medicines raise serotonin levels in our brains.
You might need to take medicine for a while. If you feel better and no longer get stressed when in places that used to make your heart pound, then it's possible the doctor could begin tapering off the medication.
For a short time, your doctor may recommend anti-anxiety medications in addition to antidepressant medication.
These are sedatives that can help with symptoms. Still, you shouldn't depend on them because of the possible side effects and risk for addiction which includes alcohol or drug abuse, if those issues were previously present too long ago already.
Alternative therapies- Applied relaxation is a series of exercises that help you notice when your muscles start tensing up and learn how to ease the tension for yourself, usually taking an hour-long session each week or more. Over 12-15 weeks as needed until it becomes second nature with practice.
For much relief, you could practice meditation and breathing exercises that can be good alternative therapy.
Lifestyle changes can be difficult to say no when friends offer you a coffee or alcohol, but we must exercise regularly and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Caffeine is one of the most common triggers for head lice outbreaks in children, so don't drink caffeinated beverages if your scalp hurts. Jansson, (L. and Öst, L.G., 1982)
The proper combination of medication and therapy could be very beneficial for a condition like Agoraphobia making your life easier. A few things to keep in your mind.
Get help when you need it- if you are suffering from such trouble, family and friends are always there to help you work through those scary situations. Such a support group could let you connect with people going through the same problems you are.
Manage anxiety and stress- consult with your therapist about how you can calm yourself in such situations and find some relaxation techniques that could easily work for you.
Follow your doctor's guidance- If you're taking your medication as directed and keeping up with therapy appointments, then I hope the doctor's team can do their best for you.
I hope you find this article informative enough to understand Agoraphobia very clearly. The fear is natural, and thus as explained above, it can be treated with medication and therapy. You just need to control your feelings and take proper guidance that will benefit you with your issues.