Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder. It is the fear of public places. The person is afraid to step out of his home and thinks his home is the safest place to be at.
How does it start?
It begins with experiencing a discomfort in some place. Agoraphobia develops with each incident that involves the trigger resulting in extreme stress.
The discomfort is followed by a panic or anxiety attack making the person afraid to visit the same place. It could be a park, a supermarket, a restaurant, etc. The person develops fear because he starts associating things around and situations to that feeling of extreme discomfort he went through.
To be classified as Agoraphobia a person should have the fear of at least two of the following things:
- Open Spaces
- Public Transport
- Enclosed Spaces
- Being in a crowded place
- Being outside of their home, especially alone
What does a person go through?
The phobia can hamper the quality of life a person leads. He may be unable to do perform activities outside his home, for example, going to work, school, interacting with friends and family outside of their comfort zone. Over a time the person becomes isolated because he is unable to socialize due to his fear. This may lead to a major illness like depression. He may start opting for unhealthy methods to cope with his situations like the use of drugs, alcohol or develop an eating disorder. He may understand that his fear is irrational but because it has overpowered his rationality, he may end up feeling helpless. This can severely affect his self-esteem.
Some simple tips
If you or someone you know is agoraphobic below are tips to manage the illness.
When you are going through a panic attack, you face difficulties in breathing. It becomes fast and shallow. You must concentrate on taking slow and deep breathes, through your nose.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle to improve your well-being. Avoid alcohol and caffeine and include a workout session in your daily routine. Make sure you take enough sleep every day in order to keep yourself away from stress due to sleep deprivation.
You can learn some relaxation techniques like meditation, mindfulness, hypnotherapy, etc. Explore and follow that suits you best.
Consult a professional
Talk to a mental health professional. If your fear is keeping you away from leading a normal and happy life, you need to help.
There is no guaranteed way to deal with the phobia. But dealing with your anxiety and stress can be really helpful. Do not let a phobia take control of your life. Take the charge and make the change.
Learn more about Dr Prerna Kohli
Read more about tips to control anxiety