Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is a form of panic attack disorder that presents as a fear of panic attacks, where the person feels trapped or unable get to safety. In many instances, people with agoraphobia function within their perceived safety zone, such as an area of the neighbourhood, their home, or even one or a few rooms in one’s house.

 

Symptoms of agoraphobia include:

  • Fear of being alone in any situation
  • Fear of being in crowded places
  • Fear of losing control in a public place
  • Fear of being in places where it may be difficult to escape, such as an elevator, a tunnel, a bridge or public transportation
  • Inability to leave your home, or the ability to leave it if someone else goes with you
  • A sense of helplessness
  • Excessive dependence on others
  • Feeling a loss of control
  • Fear of dying

 

Some people experience physical symptoms of agoraphobia, which include the following:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Hot flushes or chills
  • Abdominal distress

Treatment of this debilitating condition usually begins with an education segment about agoraphobia and anxiety. Understanding that what one is suffering from has a name and is treatable instills hope and naturally lessens the intensity of fear.

Attempts to avoid the external triggers of agoraphobia will only serve to maintain them. Instead, we encourage patients to separate the triggers from the fear they experience. Anxiety makes us believe that feeling anxious is equivalent to being in danger.  By discerning between the feeling of fear and the threat of actual danger, we can direct the healing into the right path. Through therapy, patients can also learn to accept the phenomenon of uncertainty and explore new ways to respond to the what if thoughts.

The program of treatment varies from one person to the next. The primary goal of treatment for everybody is the reduced sensitivity to anxious feelings – in other words, to work on the fear of fear.

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