Panic disorder with agoraphobia is a type of anxiety panic disorder where the person is afraid of his environment and avoids leaving safety.
You may have never heard of it, but if you have it, agoraphobia can be disabling it can influence all aspects of your life.
And, while people with agoraphobia don’t always have panic attacks, the two social anxiety disorders often go hand in hand.
Photo courtesy of suez92
What is Agoraphobia
People with agoraphobia have fear of being in certain situations. A psychiatrist or therapist would diagnose you with panic disorder with agoraphobia, if you showed fear and anxiety for being in two of these situations:
- Open spaces, such as a large yard or meadow
- Enclosed spaces, like an elevator (claustrophobia)
- Public transportation, like a train, bus or airplane
- Standing in line or in crowds (malls, grocery store, theaters, sporting events, church)
- Outside your home alone
A person with agoraphobia is not only afraid of being in those situations. He is fearful of being embarrassed or unable to escape the discomfort he’ll feel. He’s sure that others will see his panic, and that he will be shamed forever.
Agoraphobics are afraid to leave their Safe Zone which is often their home, but it can also be limited to just one room in their home.
Because of a feeling of being so frightened of leaving their Safe Zone, people with agoraphobia often do suffer from panic attacks, when they have to leave the safety of their home. They “know” they will have an attack, and so they do. Their minds accommodate them.
Causes of Agoraphobia
The causes of panic disorder with agoraphobia are hazy. It is known that, if someone in your family is agoraphobic, you have a 60% chance of becoming agoraphobic yourself.
Some people who develop this social anxiety disorder had traumatic childhoods or lost family members at an early age.
Others have no history that would make them more vulnerable to panic disorders.
In addition, if a person has panic attacks that are not addressed, she can also develop agoraphobia. The two anxiety disorders are related, but they are not exactly the same. And having one does not necessarily mean that you will have the other.
Effects of Agoraphobia
A person with agoraphobia might worry that, if they have a panic attack, they will need someone to give them assistance or reassurance.
Their fear comes from the feeling that, once caught in an anxiety attack, they won’t be able to take care of themselves–and will be at the mercy of strangers in a strange place.
Many are so immobilized by this fear that they find it very difficult to leave their homes for even a short period. In its extreme form, people with agoraphobia can be housebound for many years.
However, having agoraphobia anxiety disorder is by no means a hopeless situation. In fact, something only becomes hopeless if you really believe that the situation is hopeless.
Hypnosis Downloads has developed an excellent program to help you get over agoraphobia.
The Safe Zone Myth
If you are agoraphobic, you believe that staying in your Safe Zone keeps you safe and free from panic attacks. You are choosing to spend more and more time there, because you are comfortable and feel safe.
I’m going to burst your bubble. Your Safe Zone is no different from anywhere else. It is a myth that has been sustained by your mind.
There is nothing life threatening about a panic attack, and therefore sitting at home is the same as sitting under the stars on a desert island. Of course, your mind will tell you that a desert island is a ridiculous place to be, as there are no hospitals, no tranquilizers, no doctors, NO SAFETY.
But, think about your past experiences–when you had panic attacks. Aren’t you still here, alive and well, after all those attacks– during which you were convinced you were going to die?
You may have gone to the hospital, where they gave you medication to calm you. Do you really believe that you would not have survived, if you didn’t have medications?
You would have. And, if the same bout of panic anxiety disorder had occurred on a desert island, your panic would have dissolved in 10 minutes, even if you were all alone.
Agoraphobia is not a medical emergency. It’s not even a medical condition. It’s your body protecting you with a Fight or Flight reaction—so you can fight dinosaurs or run from them!
Overcoming Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia
Whether you choose to have a doctor or therapist come to your home, or you decide to work on your anxiety issues yourself, you will need to do something. Only 10% of people who do nothing to help themselves, ever get better. They end up being reclusive and prisoners in their own homes.
However, the good news is that agoraphobia is very treatable. And treatment for agoraphobia is not complicated.
Keep in mind that deciding to overcome agoraphobia takes courage. Your fear is real, and you will need to work at this. You are the only one who can truly help you. But it is very doable!
Here’s what needs to happen:
- Change your thinking – As simple as it sounds, this is the hardest part. You have lived a lifetime with your patterns of thinking. New thought patterns don’t come naturally. You will have to work at this. Thought Stopping and replacing negative thoughts with positive ones is one way to do this.
- Therapy – Many choose to see a therapist, who will guide them through the process.
- Hypnosis – Hypnosis is a proven technique for changing negative thinking into positive thinking. It also has been proven clinically, to treat agoraphobia effectively. If you listen regularly to your hypnosis sessions, this is one of the fastest and most effective ways to overcome agoraphobia. But I do need to warn you that even hypnosis is not an overnight cure. Unlike years ago, hypnosis is now recognized by the medical profession, as a main stream treatment for phobias.
- Desensitization – You will need to venture out of your Safe Place. Take short trips, at first. Eventually you can take longer walks, trips to the store or visits to friends. With the support of friends and family, this can be easier. Just make sure that they don’t push you too hard, too fast. You need to do this, but at your own pace.
Agoraphobia is reversible, and, with some effort, you can overcome it. Many people with agoraphobia, trapped in their homes for years, have gone on to live happy and enjoyable lives, confident that they can now leave their homes.