Agoraphobia is a complex anxiety disorder that develops over time, a person with agoraphobia has a fear of difficult to escape situations. They have an ultimate fear of not being able to escape or have no hope of being rescued if something bad were to happen. Most people confuse agoraphobia with fear of crowds and open spaces, but the fact is, the problem is more complex and deep-rooted. An agoraphobic will feel unsafe in any location regardless of the location size.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you believe you are an agoraphobic, then there are some signs and symptoms that you need to look out for. Generally, a person with agoraphobia becomes anxious which triggers fear based panic attacks. If you feel trapped, lonely, embarrassed, and helplessly unable to breath are some of the early symptoms of agoraphobia. Moreover, you will have a tough time in crowded places as the constant overwhelming fear turns into a panic attack. Here’s a list of some of the common symptoms of agoraphobia:
- Fear when in a crowded place
- Fear of leaving home unaccompanied
- Overwhelming fear in enclosed spaces
- Fearful in open spaces such as malls and parking lots
- Embarrassed and panicked in public transport
- Rapid heartbeat
- Fear of dying
- Chest pain or feeling pressure in your chest
- Feeling numb or tingling
If you feel like you are facing similar situations and prefer to take a friend or a companion along to be safe then it’s better to consult with a professional therapist or a psychologist for early diagnosis and treatment.
Self Help Methods to Deal with Agoraphobia
Although the main treatment of choice for agoraphobia is psychotherapy with medications, you have to visit your therapist regularly, sharing your feelings and anxieties openly. Make sure that you take all your prescription medication on time. Apart from the psychotherapy and medications, you can try these self-help methods to deal with agoraphobia.
1. Focus on Something Visible and Non-Threatening
To fight your fears in a crowded place, try to focus on a specific non-threatening object such as the items in a store. Keep yourself busy by trying to look for a specific scent or by trying perfume samples. Keeping busy will help you fight the fears and prevent a panic attack.
2. Be Calm and Breathe Deeply and Slowly
Breathing is the best way to help you deal with a situation that puts you in anxiety and panic. Rapid breathing will make you anxious; hence try to take deep breaths slowly to help relax your mind. Start a countdown with each breath to be calm.
3. Don’t Fight an Imminent Panic Attack
If you are close to panic attack then fighting it will make things worse. Instead, what you can do is reassure yourself that it will pass soon, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about, the panic attack is not dangerous and you are completely safe despite the attack. Keep telling yourself how strong and brave you are for handling this on your own.
Agoraphobia treatment options are many as the problem itself is quite complex. Regular psychotherapy and medication can help reduce symptoms of this frustrating illness. Avoid using drugs and alcohol if you are diagnosed with agoraphobia.