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Agoraphobia disorder is an irrational or extreme fear of open places, crowded places, leaving your home, or being in a place that’s difficult to escape from.
In addition to a fear of being trapped somewhere, agoraphobia also includes the fear of embarrassment and helplessness in public situations when a panic attack occurs. Many people tend to confuse agoraphobia and social anxiety, but they aren’t the same. While the triggers of agoraphobia symptoms vary for everyone, things like airplanes, the use of public transportation, being in enclosed spaces, or even standing in line at a store can bring on symptoms of agoraphobia. Like many other mental disorders, agoraphobia can be difficult to live with without guidance, which is why our Banyan mental health center is sharing tips on overcoming agoraphobia that can help.
Tips on How to Deal With Agoraphobia
Agoraphobia doesn’t necessarily refer to the fear of specific places but rather the fear that escape would be difficult if something were to happen. People with agoraphobia also experience anxiety or fear about potentially having a panic attack in public. Like so many other mental illnesses, this condition can make it difficult for someone to do things they want to do. This condition often leads people to avoid going out, especially in crowded areas. Learning how to overcome agoraphobia can also be challenging for someone with this condition because they may live in a constant state of dread.
While many people search for how to overcome agoraphobia fast, recovering from any mental disorder isn’t an overnight process. However, there is a way to manage this condition and prevent it from taking over your life. Below are some tips on how to cope with agoraphobia that can help.
Practice Systematic Desensitization
Systematic desensitization for agoraphobia focuses on teaching the patient to produce inhibitory physiological responses (such as relaxing their muscles) to reduce their anxious response to increasingly threatening situations. Systematic desensitization therapy slowly introduces patients to anxiety-inducing stimuli and teaches them how to properly respond so they can avoid anxious reactions like panic attacks. Someone in desensitization therapy may start off with one stimulus and gradually be exposed to more serious ones as they become more comfortable in treatment. People in systematic desensitization therapy have to member the five R’s:
The goal of systematic desensitization is to replace the fear response of a phobia with a relaxation response using counterconditioning.
Practice Stress-Management Relaxation Techniques
There are plenty of agoraphobia relaxation techniques that can help you gradually overcome this condition and become more comfortable in usually distressing situations. Part of this is making a plan for handling anxiety-inducing situations. You know your condition and symptoms the best out of anyone, so it’s important to have a plan on how to react when you’re placed in triggering situations. Additionally, others find that practicing meditation and mindfulness also help them mentally prepare for stressful moments. Yoga is especially helpful for developing mindfulness and self-awareness. Being physically active and keeping your hands busy with fun hobbies boosts your mood, reduces stress, and offers mental clarity.
Identify Your Triggers
Overcoming agoraphobia is also about knowing what activates your fear or anxiety in the first place. If you know that going grocery shopping at a particular time will be stressful because of the big crowds and long lines, then try to go at a better time, but don’t avoid it. Whether it’s a busy grocery store or any other stressful situation, it’s important to identify particular situations, places, or things that trigger your anxiety.
Moreover, the underlying causes of agoraphobia can stem from a variety of factors. Some possible causes of agoraphobia include:
- Environmental stress
- Preexisting mental health conditions like panic disorder or other phobias
- Trauma and other stressful events
- Having an anxious or nervous temperament
- Having a close relative with agoraphobia (family history of the condition)
So, what causes agoraphobia? Agoraphobia can be the result of either one or the combined efforts of the factors mentioned above. This condition can manifest differently in everyone, and as a person goes through therapy, they’re likely to work on additional issues that have contributed to their disorder. Because agoraphobia and most mental disorders have underlying contributing factors, our inpatient mental health rehab is a great place to learn what these factors are and develop the skills needed to manage this condition and get the most out of life.
Seek Professional Help
An agoraphobic lifestyle can be difficult to manage, and even the best self-help tips may not be too helpful. When push comes to shove, seeking professional agoraphobia help is your best option. Our mental health rehab offers anxiety treatment and other therapy programs that can help patients with agoraphobia recover. Without professional help, complications like substance abuse, depression, school or work problems, and relationship issues can occur. Although there are measures that you can take on your own, seeking agoraphobia support and treatment can significantly improve symptoms and overall quality of life.
In addition to anxiety treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most common psychotherapy methods used to treat agoraphobia. We also provide this program at our facility to help patients with this condition. To learn more about our other mental health treatment options, call us at 888-280-4763.