What's Agoraphobia and How Is It Related to Anxiety?
People who occasionally experience panic attacks try in any possible way to get rid of them. In many cases people who are suffering from anxiety attacks notice that they occur at certain places like in the cinema, at the supermarket, in crowded places etc. As a result they may decide that these places actually trigger their anxiety and avoid visiting them. This behavior is actually the first step towards agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is a condition in which a person is extremely cautious and afraid of having another panic attack and avoids certain activities and places.
A typical example of a person who has developed agoraphobia in response to panic attacks is someone who has experienced panic attacks while using public transport several times, and as a result decides not to use it all. Unfortunately these efforts to protect yourself from anxiety attack just lead to greater problem – agoraphobia.
In many cases people with agoraphobia as a result of panic disorder believe they have some “safe zones” where they are completely protected from having another panic attack. They believe that as long as they avoid the certain places and activities that they think trigger the attacks, the problem will be solved. However, the harsh reality is that this behavior not only doesn't solve the problem, it actually aggravates the condition.
The main problem is that people with agoraphobia will avoid any situation and place that they think of as a “trap”. That means they will avoid places from which they think will not escape easily if they have a panic attack – crowded places, trains, public transport, job interviews, supermarket, shopping mall – the list can be really long. This can and will dramatically change your life, as it makes you not capable of enjoying normal daily activities.
Very severe agoraphobia can make a person fearful of leaving their home. This happens when a person believes that his or her home is their only safety zone and outside of it they will immediately have another panic attack. In these cases people can refuse to leave their homes with months and even years.
Overcoming a Fear of Your Fears
Overcoming panic attacks and agoraphobia is not an easy task, but they are highly treatable conditions. Since your agoraphobia comes from your attacks, you will have to deal with the problem in depth. The solution here is both simple and difficult: you have to face your fears. When you avoid certain places and activities in order not to have another anxiety attack it’s the attack itself that you fear. It is vital to learn how to get control over your panic attacks. In order to overcome the condition and your fears you will have to practice a lot, and you will have to do this in an actual situation where you are experiencing a panic attack.