The term “agora” in agoraphobia” is a Greek word and translates as “marketplace”. Now the term is more commonly used to describe a specific type of anxiety disorder that causes a person to avoid any situation that may cause a panic attack. Frequently, this means that an agoraphobic experiences extreme anxiety or fear if required to leave their home. It can also happen in any situation that may cause the sufferer to feel helpless or embarrassed if a panic attack does occur.
Many agoraphobics experience a great deal of anxiety, to the point of panic, in any public setting. This is especially true of any place where there is a crowd, such as a sporting event. The levels of anxiety can be so pronounced that they, literally, trap the individual in their own home.
As with many other types of phobias, treating agoraphobia means facing your fear and that is always very hard. But, there are specific medications and therapies available to help you get past your fears and live a better life.
If you suspect you suffer from agoraphobia, or know someone who might, these are the symptoms most commonly found:
• Afraid of crowded places
• Feeling of helplessness
• Fear of being alone anywhere
• Afraid of being “trapped” somewhere you can’t “escape” such as an airplane, train, or elevator
• Being overly dependent on others
• Not being able to leave your house
• Afraid you may “lose control” in a public place
• Feeling that your physical body is somehow disconnected, or not real
Agoraphobia rarely happens without a panic disorder as well. Most commonly it is a complication of a panic disorder which is a disorder that brings about episodes of fear so intense that they cause equally intense physical symptoms. At their worst, panic attacks are terrifying. So much so that the physical symptoms can easily convince you that you are experiencing a heart attack or are dying.
Some research suggests that agoraphobia can be developed if you mentally begin to make a connection between your panic attack and the situations where those attacks have taken place. Naturally, you will probably want to avoid those situations in the future to prevent more panic attacks. Those who suffer from agoraphobia are most likely to steer clear of any circumstance where it would be embarrassing or hard to leave if a panic attack does happen.
Occasionally, this fear becomes so overwhelming that the sufferer is not capable of leaving the perceived safety of their home. But, in most cases, agoraphobics can beat their fears in most circumstances if they are in the company of a trusted family member or companion.
Regardless of the severity of the agoraphobia, having to live with the symptoms makes life more difficult. While professional treatment will help to get past the fears or, at least, successfully manage them you can also do some things on your own to help the problem.
Avoid Drugs and Alcohol-abusing either illegal drugs or alcohol won’t help. In fact, they will make your panic attack symptoms much worse.
Relax-There are many techniques you can learn and practice at home to help. Some suggestions are yoga or meditation.
Don’t Avoid Your Fear-This is very hard but practicing going to more places where you are not comfortable will render them less frightening. Take small steps at first and ask family or friends for help.
Take Your Medications-Your therapist undoubtedly told you it can take a week or two to begin to see the effects when you start on a specific drug so stick with it and continue to take your medications exactly as your doctor specifies. Read the rest of this entry »