Agoraphobia: Counseling And Other Treatments

 

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Typically, agoraphobia starts to present after an individual has gone through a history of panic episodes. This often results in people developing a phobia of crowded places, hard to get out of, or open spaces.

In its more severe circumstances, agoraphobia can lead an individual to stay at home almost always. Agoraphobia tends to start anywhere from the middle teenage years to an individual’s middle to the late 30s. As mentioned above, most people with agoraphobia also have panic disorders or panic attacks.

Agoraphobia is a specific type of anxiety disorder that makes most people afraid of ever getting out of spaces or areas that they have considered safe for them. The most difficult situations are those individuals who can never get out of their homes because of the disorder.

What Causes It?

For most individuals who are inflicted with agoraphobia, the illness probably developed following bouts of panic attacks, and then they begin worrying about suffering from more panic episodes. They would commonly be scared of experiencing panic attacks and having them when they are in public places.

They will also attempt to evade places and mental conditions that they believe might lead them to attack. Agoraphobia is primarily a collection of one or more panic attacks. It is presently believed that major panic attacks and traumatic events cause an individual to develop the disorder. Additionally, genes could influence people to have agoraphobia.

It is commonly assumed that a panic disorder arises from one’s flight or fight response. In an actual threatening scenario, the body and brain release certain hormones, such as adrenaline. This is a primary human reaction to hazardous and distressing situations. Fundamentally, this body’s response often gets triggered repeatedly, with no real danger or harm present. This continuous false trigger is the underlying cause of panic episodes in most individuals.

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What To Do

Cognitive-behavioral therapy and counseling are currently the best treatments recommended for managing agoraphobia, although some things you can also do that could help.

·      Do not use depressants and stimulants. It is a smart move to quit consuming alcohol and drugs and slowly cut out caffeine. All these can produce depressive moods or anxiety and eventually worsen your panic episodes.

·      Get sufficient sleep. Getting regular sleeping hours has been proven to alleviate almost any mental health condition. It is vital in every aspect of your life – your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.

·      Continue your treatment regimen as instructed. As previously mentioned, talk therapy, CBT, and counseling are the most crucial types of treatments for essentially managing and alleviating your agoraphobia and anxiety as a whole. Begin with a workable and efficient treatment regimen with a counselor you are comfortable with and stick to that regimen. Do not forget that nothing can be cured overnight, so be patient.

Is It Curable?

The great news is that this type of phobia responds to treatment very well, although most individuals have a hard time overcoming it by themselves. The most common forms of treatment for agoraphobia are counseling, particularly talk therapy, exposure therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

New Research On Online Counseling

Online counseling has increasingly been getting more in the limelight in the current years, with a growing base of regular patients and many accolades from mental health professionals. Some researchers have even revealed online counseling to be more efficient than conventional, face-to-face counseling or therapy.

Among the most vital parts of any dependable online counseling program is that they only employ real professional counselors or therapists certified in their corresponding state. This is true for all popular and reliable programs. These programs ask their counselors to show their certifications, proof of their educational background, workshops attended, and years of experience working in their designated state. Finally, they should also be licensed and certified.

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Online therapy is definitely more convenient to fit into one’s calendar, regardless of how hectic your schedule may be. Since you are receiving online counseling at the comfort of your home, you don’t have to be concerned about your appearance or driving to your scheduled appointments.

Online counseling enables almost anybody to receive the therapy that they require, and it’s much easier for them. Several online therapy or counseling platforms even permit you to receive counseling 24/7.

Online treatment for agoraphobia provides its clients more discretion than face-to-face counseling because, in most platforms, your counselor never requires you to show your face if you do not want to. You can also seek a counselor who resides in another state, as this offers many individuals with more sense of confidentiality in their local region. Finally, this makes it swift and convenient to find a new counselor if you wish to.

 

 

Overcoming Fear: Tips From Counselors

 

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When anxiety and fear become frequent in one’s life, these turn into a problem. If your bathroom sink won’t drain, do you neglect it? No, you don’t. You quickly contact your regular plumber or attempt to repair it yourself. When fear leads to mental and physical instability, and you begin evading things that could increase your fear, do not ever ignore it. Anxiety can often progress to become something disabling and make you tremble and feel sick, but do not ever set it aside.

Below are some beneficial tips collected from experienced counselors on how to overcome your fear naturally.

Know More About Your Fear

This initial step may be the toughest and probably the most necessary. You cannot win over your fear if it remains concealed in the dark areas of your subconscious. You should confront it. When you face a person, you see him, and you learn more about his features and how he behaves. Similarly, as you face your fear, you notice things about it that you possibly didn’t notice before. This knowledge will help you win over it.

To reinforce this step, you can start writing a journal for a span of two to three weeks. Document any patterns that you observe. Do you have cold sweats, or does your stomach tighten when somebody rings the doorbell? Do you suddenly have indications of anxiety during the mornings or evenings? Write down anything that you believe is relevant. Transmitting your fear symptoms and patterns into your journal can help discredit them. They become smaller and less fearful. Finally, getting to know more about your fear provides you with clues on how to defeat it.

Let Your Brain Work In A Different Way

Fears and anxieties emerge from certain areas of your brain, and they permit feelings to overpower rational thoughts. If you feel that your fears are slowly creeping out, try to use the various areas of your brain differently. Take numbers, for example. A nurse often uses a scale of 1 to 10 when asking a patient to rate his pain. You can use this scale to rate your fear or anxiety. How scared do you feel – 1 being very relaxed and 10 being extremely scared? Contemplate and analyze. Is it a 6? That’s fine. You can try pushing it down to a 5 or 4.

Concentrate On Breathing Properly

Proper breathing is more beneficial and vital than you could ever imagine. Typically, anxiety starts with short breaths. These short breaths trigger several negative responses in the body, which then rapidly becomes an anxiety attack. An important factor in overcoming these bouts of anxiety attacks is to learn how to control your breathing.

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Don’t worry – deep breathing is easy to learn. When you have learned to identify signs that you become anxious or your fearfulness arises, stop what you’re doing and concentrate on breathing. Take deep, controlled inhales, then let out slow exhales. Be sure your expiration is longer than your inspiration. This is not something that tricks your brain. Breathing deeply pushes your body to calm itself physically.

Imagine Positively

Imagining beautiful things is truly a gift that we can freely do. It fosters creativity, power, and the capacity to think out of the ordinary. Sadly, imagining can sometimes be a dangerous tool when it leads you to ponder negative thoughts. When used adversely, it can increase your fears and makes your situation seem problematic than it really is.

Rather than allowing your imagination to turn you towards the dark corners, deliberately use it to win your fears. How? Choose a calm instance when you are not anxious. Shut your eyes and imagine that you are in a situation that makes you feel scared. For example, if you dread the thought of getting lost in an unfamiliar place, imagine that you are in a bustling airport. Now, picture yourself dealing with the situation calmly. You don’t tremble and cry. Rather, you look for a customer service desk or someone who can help you reclaim that sense of direction. Picture yourself successfully reaching the precise parking area, heading towards your car, and then finally driving home safely without having to meet any unpleasant incidents.

That peace you felt in your pictured scenario does help you surpass the real challenge more calmly.

Utilize Nature As Your Counselor Or Therapist

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Speaking with a counselor is a great way of working through your anxiety and fear. But you don’t stay in your counselor’s office all the time. Why don’t you try going for a breezy walk instead? The beauty seen in gardens, beaches, and parks does help decrease fear and anxiety symptoms. Nature pacifies people, lowering stress levels and altering moods from anxious to calm.

Additionally, physical activities like jogging or walking outdoors require us to use our body and brain, which then triggers a switch from illogical terrifying thoughts to clear and peaceful thinking that can definitely help us forget and finally win over fear.

 

 

On Social Anxiety: Frequently Asked Questions

 

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It is not uncommon to feel apprehensive in some social circumstances. For instance, going on a romantic date or giving a big speech may result in feeling those butterflies in your stomach. However, when you suffer from social anxiety, which is also known as social phobia, daily interactions trigger considerable fear, humiliation, self-consciousness, and anxiety. You are scared of being criticized or condemned by other people.

In social anxiety, fear and worry result in evasion that can interfere with your life. Extreme stress can have a tremendous impact on your work, school, everyday routines, and other usual activities. Social anxiety is a longstanding mental health illness, but learning how to cope through medication and psychotherapy can definitely help you increase your confidence and improve your capacity to interact and engage in meaningful conversation with others.

 

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Learn more about social anxiety by reading some frequently asked questions and their corresponding answers below.

 

What triggers social anxiety?

Stressful life situations and traumatic experiences during childhood are major factors contributing to the emergence of social anxiety. Severe social anxiety disorder is seen in people who have gone through sexual, emotional, or physical abuse. You’re also more prone to have a social anxiety disorder if your parents or siblings have it. Additionally, kids who are being rejected, bullied, teased, or humiliated may be susceptible to developing a social anxiety disorder.

How do you know you have social anxiety?  

You will realize that you are socially anxious. If you are usually scared that people will notice that you look worried and tense. You don’t want to be in situations that would cause you to feel embarrassed and might blush, tremble, sweat, and talk with a shaky voice. You also tend to avoid talking to people for fear of embarrassing yourself. Finally, you don’t want to be in a situation where you are in the limelight or center of attention. 

What does social anxiety mean?  

Social anxiety disorder also referred to as social phobia, is a mental health illness characterized by an extreme, longstanding fear of being judged or noticed by other people. This fear tremendously impacts school, work, and other daily activities. 

How do I overcome social anxiety?

The primary step in overcoming social anxiety is first recognizing that you have one and then trying to understand what you have. Read and learn more about it so that you will be able to observe it in yourself while you are doing your daily activities. It is best to keep a journal to keep track of the symptoms. Practicing meditation and other relaxation strategies is also a great way to help overcome social anxiety. 

What is the best cure for social anxiety?

SSRIs or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors are the best groups of prescription medications for generalized social anxiety disorder, as proven by over 20 randomized controlled experiments that utilized SSRIs. 

Can you self diagnose social anxiety?  

There is a self-check instrument that can help you identify situations commonly seen in people with social anxiety, but this does not include all situations or all the potential reasons why someone might have it. Also, it does not provide an official diagnosis of social anxiety disorder. This implies that only a medical professional, such as a doctor or therapist, can diagnose social anxiety and consider other mental health illnesses associated with it. 

What happens if social anxiety is left untreated?

If social anxiety goes untreated, it could disrupt your relationships, work, school, and other aspects of your life. Social anxiety can develop from a fear of one social event to multiple events and even progress into a generalized fear of people. Severe untreated social anxiety disorder can result in depression, phobia, isolation, and other anxiety conditions. 

How do you talk to someone with social anxiety?

If you want to help someone diagnosed with social anxiety, you can start by sharing things about yourself. Your conversations are better when they are open-ended, and you try to avoid the more personal queries. Provide compliments from time to time, but don’t interrupt the person that you’re talking with. While you’re at it, be aware of your body language.

Can you beat anxiety without medication?

Anxiety is a monster, but it is possible to beat it without taking medications. Sometimes, surpassing the nervousness and the worry is merely a matter of changing your thoughts, behavior, and your lifestyle. You can begin with a medication-free technique, and then you can speak with a medical professional if you feel worse or your symptoms have improved. 

Does social anxiety go away with age?

For some individuals, their anxiety improves as they age. However, for most people, it does not disappear by itself without being treated. It is vital to seek help if you are experiencing symptoms. Some therapies could help deal with anxiety as well. 

What is a drug that calms you down?

Benzodiazepines are minor tranquilizers and considered hypnotics or sedatives that can help calm you down when you are anxious. They are among the most popular group of drugs in the globe. 

Who do you go to for social anxiety?

It might not be easy to initially get help for a disorder like social anxiety, often making you hesitant to talk with strangers. However, if you feel that you want to avoid physical or social contact and it’s slowly (or quickly) taking control of your life, you must consult with a mental health professional about it.

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Conclusion

The ADAA states that almost 40% of individuals with social anxiety do not consult a healthcare professional until they have experienced visible indications for at least ten years. On the other hand, those with social phobia are dependent on alcohol or drugs to deal with anxiety caused by social interactions. Left unmanaged, it can cause other devastating behaviors, including isolation, alcohol and drug abuse, or suicidal ideations.

The prognosis for social phobia is good with various treatments. Therapy, medications, and lifestyle modifications can help many people manage their anxiety and function normally – and happily – in social situations.

Indeed, you don’t have to be controlled by this mental health illness. While it may be weeks or even months, medications, psychotherapy, and other beneficial treatments can help you start to feel more confident and more at ease in social situations.

 

 

When A Family Member Has Extreme Fears

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Fear is a basic, normal human emotion that usually helps protect us and keep us away from danger. Being afraid is normal and may sometimes be helpful in dangerous situations. Whenever we feel afraid, it seems like we are receiving a signal that warns us of imminent danger or it may serve as a warning to be more careful.

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Relationship Phobia: Realizations During Lockdown

 

I am afraid to commit. This is the truth now, and I admit it. I just realized that I could not move on, as in move on with another person because I am stuck with the past. What I know for sure is that I do not love my ex-husband anymore, and yet, every chance I get, the triggers still come. Relationship phobia, that’s what my friend, who is also a therapist at BetterHelp, tells me that I have. I just laughed at her, but deep down inside, I knew she has a point.

Continue reading Relationship Phobia: Realizations During Lockdown

Mental Strains From Dealing With Coronavirus

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Being stuck all day at home without knowing when this is all going to end is very frustrating. And watching the news from going bad to worse can make us all hate the idea of quarantine. According to mental health professionals, this situation also creates a perfect timing of feeling powerless, anxious, and terrified of almost everything. Thus, we get too susceptible to unhealthy negative thoughts and behavior.

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The Mental health Dilemma

We all know that anxiety and fear thrive on uncertainty. The more we don’t know what’s going to happen next with this pandemic situation, the more we deal with mental exhaustion. It is a triggering situation that not all of us can seem to comprehend. That explains why people who, instead of securing their overall health, somehow shift to embracing the negative sides of the situation. Thus, they find it overwhelming that they do not want to focus on living better lives. It leads them to the doom-and-gloom conclusion of the global health condition. These individuals focus too much on the things they can’t control, which strain their mental health. Honestly, even licensed professionals at BetterHelp believe that as well.

The truth is, there is a high possibility that we might live like this for a while. And as much as we want to complain about our situation, there is little to nothing we can do to change it. But despite this unfortunate circumstance, it doesn’t mean we have to be stressed out and take our mental health for granted.

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What Can We Do?

Get Dressed – You might think it’s funny because a lot of people are now unable to go outside. Thus, you may be wondering why anyone would try and get dressed? You might think, “what’s the point?” Well, for some reason, there are specific things we can still maintain doing to make ourselves feel good. Dressing up doesn’t mean we put on beautiful clothes to lie to ourselves and make us disregard the struggle of our current state. Contrary to that, dressing up implies that despite the unfortunate global crisis we have, we prioritize self-care. Because when you think about it, staying with our pajamas all day can make us feel covered and far-flung.

Establish A Routine – Instead of complaining about how this pandemic changes everything in our lives, why not care to establish a new routine that will comply with the ones we do regularly. Indeed, we can never control what’s happening outside, but we can always alter our space. Therefore, establishing new routines and maintaining the structures will allow us to have self-confidence, consistency, and predictability. We need to understand that the capacity to change a regular routine is the same as telling ourselves that we can work things better our ways. The one person who can do that is us.

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Be Socially Active – Understandably, we need to keep physical distance from people to avoid the spread of the infection. But social distancing doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk to our friends and colleagues. Contrary to that, we should get socially active in a digital way to secure functioning mental and emotional aspects. Yes, I hear you. Being socially active will not fill some of the added hours of your time during this pandemic lockdown. Meaning, you will still have to deal with a lot of hours alone with yourself. But a couple of minutes talking with a friend can make significant changes in your mood as well as your brain function.

Mental illness comes from uncontrolled emotional and mental instability. Perhaps you would disagree, but we need to permit ourselves to worry. Yes, we should allow our minds to experience pressure at some point. However, we should not let that fear take over our lives. We can always find ways to deal with this situation as long as we understand our strengths and weaknesses.

Marrying An Agoraphobic

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To be adventurous and to marry an agoraphobic at the same time is challenging. It is like limiting yourself to do the things you love for the one you love. Agoraphobia is a psychological condition where a person experiences anxiety when put in a situation or place where she feels unsafe like malls, subways, or any public areas. Sometimes, it is the fear of leaving home as the person may feel danger, especially in places that are not familiar.

Continue reading Marrying An Agoraphobic

Phobia: An Extreme And Illogical Fear

Phobia is an excessive, extreme, and irrational fear response. The source of fear can be a place, object, animal, person or a situation that can cause uncontrollable dread to the individual who is suffering from this mental disorder. They will design their life to avoid contact with the cause of their irrational fear.

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Continue reading Phobia: An Extreme And Illogical Fear

Peniaphobia: Don’t We All Have It?

 

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I have an aunt who everyone thinks is crazy. She has weird behaviors when it comes to money. I know we all do, but hers is very odd. To think she has a decent job, and I can say she is doing well. One day, I remember her feeling nervous. She was walking back and forth the dining area of her house, and she seemed bothered by something. I meant to ask her, but she looked like she didn’t want to be disturbed.

 

Later, I heard her talking to someone on the phone, and she was borrowing money. I was surprised! Why is she borrowing money? Is there a problem that I didn’t know? The woman she was talking to seemed to agree on lending her $50, and I was like, “What, $50! All that distress over 50!”

 

It made me mad thinking how odd the situation was. My aunt didn’t seem to need the money. Her fridge is full, and she doesn’t have children! She even has savings. I had to ask, or it will torment me until I find out why.

“Phobias and obsessional behaviors are a frequent presentation seen in the consulting room and are very often associated with clients who have high functioning occupations or media involvement, either in front of or behind the camera.” – Peter Finlay, Ph.D.

I asked her what she needed the money for, and she seemed calm. She opened her wallet, and I saw it still had another $50 in it. She said she’s afraid that it might run out of money, and she shivers every time that happens.

 

“Why!” I asked her.

 

“I don’t know. It just happens to me. I can’t run out of money. I feel like I’m going to die if I do.” She responded.

 

I couldn’t sleep that night, so I turned on my laptop to try to search for her condition. I knew it wasn’t normal, and she needed help. I mean, we all do worry about money at one point, but I’ve never seen anyone like her. That night I found out about a phobia called peniaphobia. I thought she might have it since the descriptions fit her.

 

What Is Peniaphobia?

“If you have a phobia, you probably realize that your fear is irrational, yet you still can’t control your feelings. Just thinking about the feared object or situation may make you anxious.” – Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. 

Peniaphobia is the fear of losing money. It is an extremely pessimistic reaction to the thought of losing it. We all do need the money and at some point in our lives worrying about it, but people with this kind of condition or phobia may display exaggerated behavior or reaction to losing money. Sometimes, they act as if they’re dying, or their lives depend on it.

 

 

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 What Are The Symptoms Of Peniaphobia?

 

  • Panic And Anxiety
  • Shortness Of Breath
  • Irregular Breathing
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Nausea And Vomiting
  • Dry Mouth
  • Stuttering
  • Shaking

 

What Is The Treatment For Peniaphobia?

 

There is no right medication for peniaphobia. Doctors prescribe drugs such as antidepressants, beta-blockers, and benzodiazepines to treat the symptoms of anxiety, palpitations, nervousness, and sweating.

 

 

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These drugs only have a temporary relief to the symptoms of peniaphobia. After the effect of the drug has subsided, they can all happen again, so doctors recommend that the patient deal with what’s causing the phobia.

 

What Is The Cause Of Peniaphobia?

 

Like other phobias, peniaphobia may have been from traumatic experiences that have caused a person to fear to go through the same situation again.

“If you get really overwhelmed by the thought of tackling your phobia,” explained John Grohol, PsyD., “then the desensitization technique may be right for you. All you do is gradually expose yourself to the dreaded thing or situation, and then withdraw when your anxiety becomes excessive.”

In the case of my aunt, I learned that she had a colleague who died in the hospital because no one would want to help provide her medical needs. Her condition required quite an amount of money, and she spent all her life savings trying to get better, but she never did.

 

So how can my aunt confront her fear? The experience that triggered her phobia never directly happened to her. I told her to see a therapist to help her with her condition because it isn’t normal to act the way she does when she’s running out of money. I mean, everyone does act out, but a person with peniaphobia is different. You could tell that there is something very wrong and that person needs professional help.