Escape the fear of not being able to escape – Agoraphobia

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Out of generally a 100 people who have panic disorders, a third of such population is diagnosed with Agoraphobia. This fear causes the person to feel sick, breathe heavily and often perspire excessively. Agoraphobia usually occurs when someone feel stuck or trapped, generally in a crowded place and feels that there is no chance to escape or to seek help. To a person suffering from agoraphobia, it is impossible for him/her to travel on a public transport, visit shopping centres or in extreme cases even leaving home is a nightmare for them. If met by any of the above circumstances, a person usually is pressurized with panic attacks and extreme anxiety. It becomes nearly impossible for them to take sane decisions, or act logically and it becomes extremely difficult for them to breathe properly. This may be followed up by blurriness of vision or unconsciousness. Treating such an ailment is a difficult task as it usually means facing one’s own fears.

One may know when he/she is suffering from Agoraphobia if they show any of the following symptoms:-

  • The phobia of staying alone.
  • Terror of crowded places.
  • The fear of losing control of oneself in public.
  • Fearing places where one does not have a place to exit quickly like elevator or train.
  • Not leaving home or only leaving it if accompanied.
  • Feeling helpless.
  • Depending too much on others.

This may also be accompanied by a number of signs of panic attack like:-

  • Increasing heart rate.
  • Sweating excessively.
  • Breathing problems.
  • Feeling pressure or pain in chest.
  • Dizziness and unconsciousness.
  • Sudden chills.
  • Stomach problems.
  • The fear of losing his/her life.

In some rather rare cases of Agoraphobia, panic disorders are also accompanied with the anxiety issues. In such cases, in a matter of minutes a person reaches an extreme level of fear and anxiety that they feel as if they are going to lose their life in that instant.

Know when to seek medical help.

Agoraphobia is not a life threatening condition and there are people who are living their life perfectly even under the shadow of this fear, though one should understand where to draw a line and decide to seek medical help. If the above situation is making it difficult to cope up with your daily life or during work, remember to contact medical help as soon as possible. You would not want Agoraphobia to hinder your day’s activity.

The cause of Agoraphobia is often thought to be the panic disorders or other stressful events in life.

Treating Agoraphobia

Such conditions are treated through both psychotherapy and medications. No doubt the time taken to treat it is long, yet it achieves better results and makes lives more stable.
Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy is known to be the initial and the most powerful action against Agoraphobia. The Cognitive behavioural therapy is known to exponentially reduce the symptoms and increase output of an individual. Through psychotherapy, a lot of things are cleared out like:

  • Their fears won’t come true.
  • That the anxiety that you are fighting to hold can decrease even when you are in public and one can manage such symptoms until the attack passes.
  • One can know what are the factors triggering such anxiety attacks and what are the factors which make them even worse.
  • Coping with the symptoms mentioned above.
  • How one can neutralize such feelings of anxiety and panic symptoms through the use of desensitization known as exposure therapy; meaning safely facing the situations and the places which trigger the panic attacks.

The people facing the extreme cases of agora phobia, often have trouble leaving home, hence it is advisable for such people to contact psychotherapist who can attend patients at their home or through telephonically. Emails may also be an alternative. However it is important that the patient feels comfortable and stay in his/her safe zone.
Medications: The condition we talked about above is generally treated through antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. It however takes a certain amount of time before doctors can find the medicine suiting your condition as different medications treat different types of conditions. Although at the end, you doctor will have the following choices:
Antidepressants:- Medicines which treat agoraphobia and panic disorders usually are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRI’s, like Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva) and Prozac. The above mentioned are the safest drugs for treatment of agoraphobia. Drugs other than these may be helpful but have a higher risk of side-effects.

Anti-anxiety medications: There is a very small chance that a doctor may prescribe these for reliving you of anxiety symptoms. Drugs like Xanax and Klonopin are used as anti-anxiety medications however they are only used for short term basis as they can be habit-forming and thus not a good choice.

Using both antidepressants and anti-anxiety may cause side-effects which may generate their own sorts of panic attacks. This is the sole reason that the dosage of such drugs is only increased during the start of the treatment and decreased while progressing through it.
It is important however that along with taking all the treatments for Agoraphobia, one takes precautions and preventions. If you are being introduced to a foreign place, make sure you are along with a family member who can support you. Practising going to such places may also help in understanding and thus relieving of any pertaining anxiety chances. But most all, stay brave. It is okay to fear a place but do not lose the battle until you show all the courage you have.