3 Things You Need to Know About Agoraphobia Right Now
1) Agoraphobia Can Happen to Almost Anyone
Did you know that approximately 1 in 50 people will suffer from agoraphobia at some point in their life?
That’s right! According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 3.2 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 54 (or 2.2 percent of this population) have agoraphobia at any given time.
2) Agoraphobia Develops Through a Process Called “Conditioning”
Agoraphobia usually begins with an episode of spontaneous panic. Following an initial panic attack, a process called “conditioning” begins.
In other words, the person starts avoiding the place or situation in which the panic attack occurred because he or she has learned to associate it with the panic.
The person also becomes afraid of having another panic attack. This fear leads to obsessive worry about when and where the next panic attack might occur. The person literally “fears the fear.”
This obsessive worry triggers more frequent panic attacks and the person gets conditioned to associate panic with each new situation or place where he or she has a panic attack.
Because unexplained panic attacks are horrifying experiences, most people start avoiding all the places they have panic attacks.
At some point, panic attacks are experienced in so many places that the fear of having a panic attack generalizes. The person associates panic with nearly everywhere and avoids most public places.
In the most severe cases, people with agoraphobia become confined to their homes. In extreme cases, agoraphobics are even confined to their beds.
3) There are Effective Treatments Available for Agoraphobia That Reverse the Conditioning Process.
There are behavioural techniques like cue-controlled relaxation, systematic desensitization, and flooding.
There are cognitive techniques like cognitive restructuring, thought stopping, and focusing. There is insight therapy to help figure out the root cause of your fear.
There are a host of other techniques like visualization, hypnosis, meditation, and biofeedback. Not to mention all of the medications being prescribed for agoraphobia today.
While the options are many, you need access to the right information to help you know what treatments to choose.
Understanding How To Treat Agoraphobia is the First Step Toward Recovery
Not all therapy is equal. While there are many forms of treatment for agoraphobia, some are more effective than others.
Also, different therapies work better for different people. The average agoraphobic is usually at the mercy of a psychologist or therapist to prescribe a treatment for them.
How can you be sure that a therapist will choose the best treatment for you?
Many psychologists will prescribe a form of therapy they are most familiar with.
This may or may not be the most effective therapy or the best form of therapy for you.
Also, doctors are not always so good at letting you know about the side effects of medications.
You need to know your treatment options for agoraphobia!
You need access to complete and accurate information to help you decide which treatments or medications for agoraphobia are right for you.
Are You Concerned Right Now Because You or Someone You Love Has Agoraphobia?
If so, you need the very latest information about agoraphobia right away… You need to know things like:
How to recognize the symptoms of agoraphobia…so can tell if you have agoraphobia or a different disorder.
The most effective treatments for agoraphobia according to current research…so you can decide if one of these treatments is right for you.
The benefits and possible side effects of the most commonly used medications for agoraphobia…so you won’t become addicted to a medication with terrible side effects that only make things worse.
Some criteria for choosing the right professional help…so you will be able to choose a therapist that has the right qualifications an experience to help you with agoraphobia.
The Average Person with Agoraphobia Takes at Least One Full Year to Be Diagnosed
….. and Even Longer to Learn Enough About Agoraphobia to Start Recovering.
Here are four reasons why:
Reason 1: Most people don’t know what is wrong with them at first.
The symptoms of agoraphobia, especially during panic attacks, feel like those of a physical illness.
People with agoraphobia commonly visit about three or four of doctors trying to find a diagnosis.
Reason 2: Many doctors don’t know how to diagnose agoraphobia. Most doctors will listen to physical complaints and run tests.
They will report that the tests are negative, but often fail to suggest the presence of agoraphobia due to a lack of training in this area.
Doctors who can tell that your symptoms are caused by anxiety or panic still may not be able to tell what type of anxiety disorder you have or provide information about it.
Reason 3: Most people go through a period of denial.
When faced with the diagnosis of a psychological disorder like agoraphobia, the human reaction is to throw up defences and deny it.
Most of us don’t think of ourselves as the type of person who would have a “mental problem” or “psychological disorder.”
Reason 4: Most people are reluctant to seek treatment for a psychological disorder because of the stigma.
Psychological problems carry a stigma in society that physical illnesses and injuries do not.
The average person tends to look upon a psychological disorder as personal weakness or lack of will power.
Since no one wants to be viewed as lacking motivation and willpower, most people try hard not to admit, even to themselves, that they have agoraphobia.
Even people who are able to admit to themselves that they have a psychological disorder can still have trouble admitting it to anyone else.
It’s hard enough to try to explain irrational fear and panic attacks to your friends and family, and even harder to seek out professional help.
Learn Everything You Can About Agoraphobia and Start Your Recovery
It’s Scary to Be in the Dark About Agoraphobia.
The best course of action to take if you start experiencing panic attacks or the symptoms of agoraphobia is to:
1) See a doctor to rule out medical problems. (As explained in The Agoraphobia Treatment Guide, there are some medical problems that mimic the symptoms of agoraphobia).
2) Consult a mental health professional to get a diagnosis and begin treatment.
3) Before you start paying for professional help – learn everything you can about agoraphobia and your treatment options.
You need to know what type of mental health professional to see and be ready to intelligently discuss your treatment options.
Remember, professional psychologists charge about $100 per hour. You don’t want to waste time.
That’s why you should do your homework BEFORE you consult an agoraphobia specialist.
Knowledge of agoraphobia is the first step to recovery and the sooner you get started on your recovery the faster it will be.
However, the longer you wait to learn about this disorder and how to treat it, the more agoraphobia has a chance to take root, and the more difficult your recovery may be.
Warning: It May Be Hard To Undertake A Major Research Project To Learn About Agoraphobia While You Are Suffering From It.
Questions You Should Consider Before Starting Treatment For Agoraphobia
If you want to recover from agoraphobia, you absolutely need to know:
What treatment options you should be discussing with your therapist…so you can make the best use of the time and money you spend in therapy.
How long a particular type of therapy should last and how to know whether your therapy is working or not…so you don’t throw valuable time and money down the drain.
Whether or not you should take medication in addition to psychotherapy to control your disorder….so you won’t take the risks associated with medication unless you really need to.
Alternative choices to the most popularly prescribed medications like Xanax and Ativan, and how to know which medication is right for you…know how to decide if you should try an anti-depressant, a tranquilizer, or both.
How to use medications safely, without developing tolerance, dependence, or suffering horrible withdrawal symptoms when you try to get off… have the information you need to weight the benefits and risks of a medication before trying it.
Once you’ve gained control of agoraphobia, whether there is anything you can do to make sure it won’t return…know for sure that you are doing the things that lead to permanent recovery and not just temporary symptom relief.
How to overcome bad agoraphobia symptoms like hyperventilating and obsessively monitoring your body for unusual symptoms…so you can make your life easier while you recover and not suffer any more than you have to.
How to develop self-care habits that will support you through particularly anxious periods of time…develop a lifestyle that supports your recovery.
Techniques you can use to ignore agoraphobic or anxious thoughts when they arise…so you can regain control of your mind and not be constantly preoccupied.
How to overcome setbacks and periods of doubt in your recovery…understand normal recovery cycles to keep from getting discouraged.
How to remove subconscious roadblocks to recovery that you may not be aware of…so you don’t unknowingly sabotage your own recovery (in the same ways that many of us do).
Hopefully we’ve shed a little light on what agoraphobia is and how you can begin to deal with it properly.
If you have anything you can share with us, please leave us a comment below, as we’d love to hear from you!