Agoraphobia is a severe form of anxiety disorder. It is characterized by a person’s extreme fear of situations where they feel their environment is unsafe. The environment may be too crowded for them. They may feel trapped and unable to escape. These places may include open spaces, shopping centers, public transport or simply being outside their home. So the sufferer lives a very restricted life until they learn how to treat agoraphobia. This post will outline a number of effective treatments that will help overcome agoraphobia
Being in a perceived unsafe environment may result in the agoraphobic person having a panic attack. This is an abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort. A panic attack tends to appear suddenly and disappears just as quickly. People who experience a panic attack usually experience a range of symptoms such as:
- Pounding or racing heart
- Trembling or shaking
- Shortness of breath or smothering sensation
- Feelings of choking
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Nausea or abdominal distress
- Dizziness, light-headed, or faint
- Hot or cold feelings
- Numbness or tingling
- Fear of losing control or going crazy
- Fear of dying
As several of these symptoms are physical, many people who experience them think there is something physically wrong with them. They may believe that they are having a stroke or heart attack.
Living With Agoraphobia
The exact causes of agoraphobia are unclear but there is evidence that it is linked to stressful life events, having other anxiety disorders, depression or a family history of agoraphobia. This is a very distressing disorder. It lasts for more than six months. People who are affected by it will go to great lengths to avoid being in these situations. In severe cases, a person with agoraphobia may become completely unable to leave their homes.
Agoraphobia is a very restricting form of anxiety. Because a person becomes fearful of being in open or crowded places, there are many places they won’t go. They may not go to supermarkets or wait until late at night when there are few people around. Invitations to social gathering may be frequently declined, resulting in fewer invitations. Over time a person becomes isolated in their home.
It is extremely difficult for someone with agoraphobia to lead a normal life. Their work opportunities are limited and social occasions are also restricted. Therefore occasions to meet new people is inhibited. It can end up being a lonely existence. Most people don’t want to live like this but it can also be difficult to know how to treat agoraphobia.
How To Treat Agoraphobia
See Your Doctor
The first step is to visit your doctor and discuss treatment options. There are different treatments that a professional therapist can provide, such a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Psychotherapy, and medication. But there are also self-help treatment methods as well.
Step 1: Support And Understanding
The first step is a person with agoraphobia needs lots of support and understanding from friends and family. Everyone involved needs to understand the fear is a very real fear. The person suffering with it cannot be persuaded to make changes purely by reasoning or trying to force them. It is more effective to learn about the brain first and how it causes anxiety. This information will help everyone involved to understand why things happen the way they do.
Understanding The Brain And Anxiety
The cerebral cortex is the intellectual part of the brain that does all the thinking. It has a slower reaction time. On the other hand, the amygdala has a fast reaction. It is the part of the brain that is always on guard, looking out for danger. The amygdala initiates the ‘fight or flight’ reactions which quickly arise when danger is detected. It links by association not by reason or logic. So whatever you fear and run away from, the amygdala will link as a danger. Whenever the same thing appears in the future the amygdala will send out an urgent warning. The fear memory is stored.
The amygdala only learns what danger is according to your fear. If you express fear when encountering a snake it will store that memory and alert you of danger every time you see a snake. The amygdala only learns by experience and can’t make any distinction between threats. It is just as likely to send out a danger warning when you see a feather – if a feather has fear linked to it. Hence agoraphobics perceived fear of open spaces will elicit a danger warning regardless of its unrealistic threat. And this pattern will not change unless you retrain your brain.
Step 2: Exposure Therapy
The second step is to learn about Exposure Therapy. Exposure Therapy for agoraphobia is one of the most effective treatments for anxiety disorders. It is based on the principle that anxiety is maintained by avoiding fear. And the more a person avoids the fear, the greater it becomes. To treat it, a person must be exposed to the fear long enough for them to realize that the negative consequences that they expected to occur, does not arise. Therefore the anxiety subsides.
A person can receive Exposure Therapy from a professional therapist but they can also use it as a self-help technique. Read how to treat agoraphobia with Exposure Therapy by following the steps of the Treatment Plan here.
Other Self-Help Ideas
Here are a few other ideas to help overcome agoraphobia and also to help to create a calm, peaceful daily practice. A happy life is not just about eliminating the negative but also replacing it with lots of positives.
Self- hypnosis is another method of how to treat agoraphobia. It is a very affordable and calming treatment that you can use in the comfort of your own home. Choose from over 800 self-hypnosis audio downloads from Uncommon Knowledge. They have a variety of audio for generalized anxiety disorder and agoraphobia.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
Another option is the Emotional Freedom Technique. EFT is a gentle tapping technique (instead of needles) that stimulates the traditional Chinese acupuncture points. This technique is used in combination with positive affirmations. It can be used for a broad range of psychological problems. Watch this video and get more free information from Dr. Carol Look here.
Yoga is a spiritual practice that includes physical bodily positions, breathing techniques, and simple meditation. There are many physical benefits of regular yoga sessions. Benefits include improvements in muscle strength, flexibility, balance, and posture. Yoga may also help with mental and emotional problems. Yoga is a calming practice that encourages relaxation, slow breathing, and building self-awareness. Join a local yoga class or do an online yoga class at home. Try a beginner’s class here.
Finally, meditation is a technique for resting and clearing the mind and achieving an emotionally calm state. Many people use meditation to relieve stress and anxiety. It is recommended for anyone who wants to achieve calmness and inner peace. Find out more by reading Gabrielle Bernstein’s Beginner’s Guide To Meditation. Also try one of her recommended meditations for fast anxiety relief here.
I hope you found this post interesting and helpful. Please leave any comments about the post below or to share your own thoughts and experiences.
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The information on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.