Fear Of The Outdoors – Dealing With Agoraphobia
Have you ever known someone who simply doesn’t want to leave their home? Perhaps you’ve felt that way a lot. If so, you may be suffering from agoraphobia, or the fear of being in a public or open space. This is an anxiety disorder that makes people tend to stay at home or only go to places they are very familiar with. It can lead to feeling scared, helpless, or panicked. In some cases, people don’t begin to feel the symptoms of agoraphobia until they are out in public, while at other times, the idea of going out triggers their anxiety. For some, they are only anxious in specific situations—being in a small space with a lot of people, for example, or being outdoors in a very large, open space.
The biggest symptom of agoraphobia is having a panic attack that is triggered by being in a crowd, being in public, being in a confined place, or whatever else is at the root of your agoraphobia. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms. Here are the most common things you may experience when having an agoraphobia-induced panic attack:
• Elevated heart rate
• Difficulty breathing
• Chest pain
• A shaky, tingly, or numb feeling
• Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
• Having sudden chills or flushes
• Having stomach pain, nausea, or diarrhea
• Feeling out of control
Who’s at Risk?
Generally, people who suffer from agoraphobia develop this issue before they reach age 35, but it can develop in older adults as well. Also, women are more often to struggle with agoraphobia than men are, but both genders do develop the disorder. Those who are naturally anxious or nervous or have a family history of agoraphobia are also at higher risk. People who have experienced a stressful event—being attacked or abused, for example—may also be more likely to develop agoraphobia.
Dealing with other mental issues, including depression, anxiety disorders, and phobias, can make your agoraphobia worse. Trying to control the condition via alcohol can also actually make it worse.
Should you Seek Help?
Those with mild agoraphobia may not experience panic attacks all the time, and while these attacks can impact their social life, all in all they aren’t much more than the rare incident. However, people with moderate or severe agoraphobia may need to work with a doctor in order to keep the disorder from affecting their lives. If you find that you’re staying home to the point that you very, very rarely socialize or even miss work, you need to deal with this issue.
Agoraphobia, like many fears and anxiety disorders, is difficult to treat because it’s not a physical condition. Yes, there are physical responses that may be managed in some ways, but the true cause of the anxiety is a mental condition. Talking to a therapist and making the decision to confront your anxiety is one step. In some cases, there are some medications that help, too.