“You are completely lazy, you sit at home all day, you don’t go anywhere!” – with these words we reproach loved ones who spend a lot of time within four walls and try not to leave the house. However, often we do not even suspect that we are not talking about ordinary laziness, but about a serious problem – agoraphobia, which modern people, especially residents of megalopolises, face more and more often. What is agoraphobia? Identify the signs and symptoms of agoraphobia. In this article, we’ll look at 6 signals that will indicate this problem and show you how you can get rid of agoraphobia.
What is agoraphobia and what are its causes
Agoraphobia is fear and avoidance of crowded places, fear of leaving the house.
Believe it or not, many people live with this disorder, facing their fears every day, however … Do you know what the causes are? How does agoraphobia manifest? Can you understand that your friends or loved ones have agoraphobia? How to beat agoraphobia? How to deal with the fear of leaving home? How to live with agoraphobia?
Agoraphobia is caused by past experiences associated with increased anxiety or panic attacks.
In general, agoraphobia refers to the fear of being in places or situations from which it may be difficult or inconvenient to get out, or in which timely assistance cannot be provided in case of a panic attack or similar symptoms: dizziness, falling, heart attack, sweating, derealization or vomiting.
That said, it is still necessary to distinguish agoraphobia from the phobia of open spaces. With the latter, a person is afraid of falling or getting injured in an open area, therefore, when walking, he clings to the wall, leaning on it.
How is agoraphobia defined? Symptoms and signs
Agoraphobia is characterized by the fact that the person suffering from it experiences and experiences fear in advance, preventing him from leading a normal life. Next, we will discuss the signs that may indicate that you or your loved one is affected by this phobia.
6 signs and symptoms of agoraphobia:
1. Avoiding frightening situations
People with agoraphobia try their best and at all costs to avoid frightening situations, and this is one of the first symptoms of this phobia.
As a rule, such people avoid going to the cinema and theaters, supermarkets and large shops, elevators, traveling by trains and buses, walking down the street, afraid to be away from home and being alone in an empty apartment, and even afraid to drive a car or just drive in car.
Agoraphobes also try to avoid situations that seem completely normal to us: work out in the gym, maintain sexual relations, participate in discussions, attend sports events, drink strong coffee or alcohol.
All these situations are avoided either because of negative personal experience or because of the unpleasant sensations that they provoke in such a person.
Of course, this does not mean that your friend is agoraphobic just because she decided to spend the whole day at home and not go to the store or the sports club. You always need to consider the context and understand whether this type of behavior extends to other areas of life!
2. Defensive behavior
Often, agoraphobic sufferers, trying to hide from unavoidable situations (for example, going to the doctor), use “defensive behavior” to prevent or manage the threat associated with anxiety / panic that this situation causes.
Examples of this “defensive behavior” include going with a trusted person or pet, taking medicine, drinking alcohol or water, eating something, smoking, bringing comforting things, and so on.
This behavior has a short-term effect, but does not solve the problem. Be careful with this!
3. Premature anxiety
Agoraphobes constantly think that they may survive a panic attack or experience severe anxiety, while simultaneously fearing the physical sensations of such states associated with anxiety (fear that they will start to sweat, tremble, choke, etc.)
Imagine what it would be like to live in constant fear, being, for example, in the office. Only by a miracle can you concentrate on your work!
4. Fear of fear or phobophobia
Agoraphobes are afraid of all situations that they think might cause them to feel anxious or panic attacks.
When they leave the house, they experience fever, fatigue, stress, hunger, etc. Each of these sensations provokes tremendous fear, as it can be a precursor to a panic attack.
The fear of a panic attack translates into certain physical reactions, such as weakness in the limbs, muscle tension, blurred vision, a lump in the throat or stomach, sweating, etc.
5. Panic attacks and similar symptoms
Most of those suffering from agoraphobia have already experienced panic attacks.
A panic attack is characterized by intense fear and discomfort, accompanied by a sense of danger and the need to escape.
The most common symptoms are: heart palpitations, dizziness, a person begins to sweat and gasp, shake, fear of going crazy or losing control. Learn how to relax when something is bothering you. And also how to cheer up.
Panic attacks vary from person to person. They differ in frequency, intensity, duration, somatic reactions, circumstances and related thoughts.
6. Disturbances or disorders resulting from agoraphobia
In severe cases, agoraphobes can spend most of their time at home with their family, or even go into complete isolation. These people are unable to lead a normal life because their existence is limited by four walls.
How to get rid of agoraphobia?
First of all, it should be understood that if a person suffers from protracted, chronic agoraphobia, then first of all, one should consult a specialist who will prescribe the appropriate correction and treatment depending on each specific case. For the treatment of agoraphobia and associated panic attacks, drug therapy and psychotherapy are used. Methods of cognitive-behavioral therapy, neurolinguistic programming, gestalt therapy, Ericksonian hypnosis are commonly used.
At the first early signs of agoraphobia, use the following tips and tricks to help you relax and take control:
- Find a comfortable place in the house and do auto-training. Close your eyes and imagine that there is a path that you need to go, leaving the house, you “walk” mentally in your head. Start from the very beginning – what will you wear, how will you close the door, cross the yard. Focus on your feelings and emotions, and notice what is causing you discomfort. Start with a short distance – for example, “mentally” walk from the entrance to the corner of the neighboring house, then to a bus stop, etc., gradually increasing the route. If your path “in the mind” will not evoke negative emotions, implement it in reality.
- Try muscle relaxation techniques and mindfulness meditation to relieve anxiety and stress.
- “Drive away” negative thoughts. Try to think realistically. Ask yourself what exactly are you afraid of? For example: “I am afraid of falling and losing consciousness.” Consider how well-founded your fears are.
- Don’t avoid places that make you feel afraid. However, be careful: start with situations that cause you the least anxiety (for example, going to the nearest grocery store). Once you’re done, move on to the next one – for example, take one bus stop, etc.
- Look for the support of family and friends, as well as people who have faced a similar problem and successfully cope with it.
- If the recommendations do not help and the situation worsens, immediately contact a qualified technician for help.