agoraphobia is an intense anxiety disorder which is usually caused by a person having 1 or more panic attacks, which in turn causes them to avoid situations where they think they could have one. They are able to go out with a companion or someone with whom they feel safe with to public places, but they are unable to go out on there own and are sometimes unable to leave there houses for long periods of time.
What are some treatments for Agorphobia?
- a course of medications, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications
- cognitive behaviour therapy and desensitisation
- counselling and self-esteem therapy
- relaxation training
- support group
- instruction in self-help methods.
Self-help methods to manage agoraphobia
The key to conquering agoraphobia is learning to control anxiety symptoms and progressively going into the situations that you fear.
Be guided by your doctor or therapist, but general self-help suggestions include:
- Breathe slowly – hyperventilation (breathing too fast and too shallow) will make the symptoms of a panic attack worse. Consciously slow your breathing. Concentrate on expanding your abdomen, not your chest, with every inhalation.
- Use relaxation techniques – learning to relax may include methods such as meditation, hypnotherapy or regular exercise. You may need to experiment to find the relaxation method or methods that work best for you.
- Find out about your condition – overcoming agoraphobia involves understanding how anxiety affects the mind and body.
- Change your lifestyle – it may help to limit or avoid caffeine, alcohol and certain medications. Regular exercise burns off stress chemicals and is known to reduce anxiety levels. See your doctor for further information and advice.
- Gradually increase exposure – this involves facing the feared environment in a controlled way. This will help you to see that nothing bad is going to happen. Typically, you choose the least threatening environment first, take along a trusted friend or your therapist as support, and use slow breathing and the other coping methods you’ve learned to control your anxiety. With regular practise, the fear of the place or situation will ease. This technique is also known as desensitisation.