One Of The Most Common Anxiety Disorders Is Also Most Misunderstood4 min read
More people than ever are opening up about their anxiety and mental health on social media and in the news. Still though, there is still much people aren’t aware of when it comes to mental health. Much of the conversation over the past year has focused on generalized anxiety and depression, with little discussion of other types of mental illnesses.
Agoraphobia is a commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder that few have heard of. Globally, almost five percent of the world’s population is affected by agoraphobia, and in the U.S. alone it affects 3.2 million people. Most of us are familiar with general anxiety, panic attacks, and even PTSD, but few understand how agoraphobia affects people.
Agoraphobia isn’t what you think
Agoraphobia is commonly described as a paralyzing fear of leaving the house, but this presents an incomplete picture of what agoraphobia really is. The truth is agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by a fear of not being able to escape if dangerous situations arise in public or private. For most people living agoraphobia, this fear was first amplified by having a panic attacks in public spaces.
The truth is agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by a fear of not being able to escape if dangerous situations arise in public or private.
Panic attacks are a fear response commonly experienced by those with agoraphobia. A person might experience palpitations, hyperventilation, chest pain, excessive sweat, dizziness, and other sympathetic system reactions associated with fight-or-flight response.
Agoraphobia CAUSES Panic Attacks
Panic attacks can be confusing, and their appearance can trigger lots of uncertainty and self-doubt. Since they are unpredictable, people who experience them often agonize over having another panic attack.
This unshakable fear often drives people who suffer from panic attacks away of public spaces where they might publicly embarrass themselves.
Their home becomes a safe space they know and are in control of. Still, the symptoms and intensity of agoraphobia varies from person to person as with any other mental illness.
Those at the more severe end of the spectrum have a paralyzing fear of going anywhere unfamiliar, while others can just about handle going somewhere ‘dangerous’ only when needed. People with mild to moderate agoraphobia might frequent many places they fear are ‘dangerous’ even though they would prefer not to do so.
The intensity of agoraphobia often grows the more isolated you become. To overcome agoraphobia, time is of the essence. There are many forms of therapy as well as pharmacological medication that are effective in treating agoraphobia.
If you or someone you know is struggling with agoraphobia don’t freak out—there’s plenty of help available. You have the power to overcome your fears and face any challenge, agoraphobia included.
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