When you are experiencing panic attacks, you have a kind of anxiety disorder that is characterized by repetitive and usually unanticipated attacks. They can be described by the inflicted individual as having a gamut of fears that manifests as scary physical symptoms and devastating thoughts. An example would be a person experiencing shortness of breath, unintentional body shaking, increased heart rate and chest pains during a panic attack.
What’s worse is that the person may not want to be taken to the hospital because he feels more afraid and anxious about the thought that they might have a more severe condition, more so feeling that they might suddenly die in the emergency room.
Despite these frightening symptoms, people who have had panic attacks for quite some time learn to manage and overcome the challenges that they encounter under the circumstances. As of today, health experts have introduced many regimens that assist patients in recovering from their condition. Unfortunately, some of these people cope with a panic attack through unhealthy ways, and an estimated one-third of them progress to develop a distinct mental health illness referred to as agoraphobia.
Agoraphobia is the severe anxiety and fear of experiencing a panic attack. The person involved is worried that he will not be able to manage his attacks if he is not at home or is in another circumstance or location that he is not familiar with. He is very anxious that he might embarrass himself in front of other people, and no one would be there to help him.
Steve Bressert, Ph.D. wrote, “Agoraphobic fears typically involve characteristic clusters of situations that include being outside the home alone; being in a crowd or standing in a line; being on a bridge; and traveling in a bus, train, or automobile.”
Because of the intense anxiety and fear that agoraphobics feel, they often develop avoidance behaviors, wherein they prefer to stay away from specific locations or circumstances that they think will cause their triggers to appear. These behaviors may include fear of getting into a car, plane or other types of transportation, big crowds, or open spaces such as malls. Because of such behaviors, the lives of the people who suffer from agoraphobia may be tremendously limited, to the point that the safest and only comfortable place they want to be in is their home. They would rather feel isolated and lonely and miserable than to experience a bout of panic attack outside of their comfort zone.
However, there are some steps that agoraphobics can take to manage their symptoms.
Visit A Mental Health Professional
“The good news is that once you face your fear—and give the boogeyman air—rather than shove it into a distant compartment of your brain, it begins losing the ability to rule you and dictate your decisions,” says Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW.
It may be impossible for them, but yes, agoraphobia is curable. Seeking professional help is the first step to cure. The health expert will review the patient’s symptoms, give an official diagnosis, and formulate a treatment plan. Following the plan religiously has shown positive outcomes and improvements over the years.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Learning self-help techniques to reduce anxiety can be a big help to agoraphobics, especially because there are several times when they experience panic attacks without warning. Breathing and meditation are some of the methods that are easy to follow and very effective in producing a calming response.
Find Ways To Reduce Stress
Ultimately, stress is the culprit of any individual who is depressed or anxious. And finding ways to alleviate stress would be very crucial in the life of an agoraphobic. It is also vital in improving one’s mental and physical well-being. Exercises like running, working out, and dancing are only some of the many ways to reduce stress. Recreational activities such as watching movies or television, family time, and travel are also very helpful in improving one’s mood and mindset.
“The first step,” says John Kim, LMFT, “is owning your fears and then identifying them. Then, of course, the question becomes, “How do I get rid of these fears?”