There are many different anxiety disorders a person could develop. These disorders are usually characterized by intense anxiety leading to panic attacks. Under the umbrella of anxiety disorders fall the category of phobias, which as intense and irrational fears that lead to panic. Agoraphobia is one such fear a person could have, and it is the most commonly treated phobia in the mental health world. It may not be the most common, but its symptoms are severe enough that treatment is almost always necessary.
Agoraphobia is the fear of leaving one's home or safe area and venturing into the outside world. It is also found in combination with other phobias or obsessive-compulsive disorder. People suffering from agoraphobia usually have panic attacks when they feel unsafe, and these unsafe feelings include when the person is trapped, out of control, or too far from a personal comfort zone. Many people suffering from agoraphobia are confined to their homes or even to a specific room in their home.
Symptoms of Agoraphobia:
Fear of being alone
Fear of losing control in a public place
Fear of being in places where escape might be difficult Becoming housebound for prolonged periods of time
Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others
Feelings of helplessness Dependence on others Feeling that the body is unreal
Feeling that the environment is unreal Anxiety or panic attack (acute severe anxiety)
Unusual temper or agitation with trembling or twitching
Additional symptoms that may occur
* Lightheadedness, near fainting * Dizziness * Excessive sweating * Skin flushing * Breathing difficulty * Chest pain * Heartbeat sensations * Nausea and vomiting * Numbness and tingling * Abdominal distress that occurs when upset * Confused or disordered thoughts Intense fear of going crazy Intense fear of dying
There are many misconceptions surrounding people with agoraphobia. First of all, agoraphobia is not a fear of open spaces, nor is it a fear of crowded spaces. While these conditions may exist within a person as well, agoraphobia is specifically a fear of being too far from a normal area, regardless of the crowd. Many people welcome visitors into their home, even if they themselves do not leave. Agoraphobics usually simply need to be in complete control of a situation.
Agoraphobia can affect any person, regardless of gender, age, religion, race, ethnicity, or economic status. The disorder is about twice as common among women than among men, however. The conditions usually begins with generalized panic attacks or slight phobias, and develops into a more and more serious condition. Thankfully, treatment is available. A gradual process of exposure is usually recommended, along with anti-anxiety medication including benzodiazepines like alprazolam. Anti-depressants can also be used. Some therapists will make house calls to help patients with agoraphobia, and alternative treatments like hypnosis are becoming more and more popular in the medical world as a treatment for agoraphobia and other anxiety conditions.
A number of famous people have suffered from agoraphobia in the past, including celebrity chef Paula Dean, actress Kim Basinger, director Woody Allen, and Nobel laureate for literature Elfriede Jelinek. The key here, however, is to realize that there is hope. If you suffer from agoraphobia, ask for help and you can begin the healing process.
Alternative Anxiety Therapies
If you've been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, it is crucial for you to seek medical treatment. This is the first step to recovery. Anxiety disorders include medical conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, agoraphobia, and panic disorder. When you talk to your doctor about your conditions, he or she will probably recommend certain talk therapies, in which you work with a therapist and cognitive-behavioral therapy to overcome your disorder. You may also be recommended to take specific medications. However, there are also a number of other therapies that you can consider to help you overcome your anxiety disorder.
If you are interested in oral medications, there are a number of supplements that may be able to help with your anxiety. Supplements are generally more naturally than the chemicals found in medications, so you body may be less likely to react to them in an adverse way. However, it is important to remember that supplements can still be dangerous if abuse. Common supplements that can be used to treat anxiety disorders include passion fruit, passionflower, kava, valerian root, St. John's wort, hops, chamomile, magnesium, and glycine. Your doctor can instruct you taking these supplements in a safe way.
If you have very low anxiety symptoms, you can also work by yourself to combat the development of full-blown anxiety disorders. First, get a proper diet. This will include all the nutrients you body needs to stay active and healthy. Reduce the amounts of caffeine and sugar you ingest to help with anxiety. Also make sure that you are getting both sleep and exercise. This can help you manage stress more readily. If you believe you may be developing an anxiety disorder, trying to use stress management skills is very important.
Many people also advocate that alcohol is a great tool for combating anxiety. Typically, patients with anxiety disorders feel stimulated, so alcohol, which is a depressant, can really help you to calm down. However, the disadvantage to this is that alcohol also can make you become intoxicated and anxiety is sometimes found in conjunction with depression, which alcohol will only cause to get worse. Therefore, this is usually not a good option, unless your doctor recommends it.
Techniques like hypnosis, virtual reality use, acupuncture, and meditation can also help patients deal with anxiety. While these alternative treatment options do not help everyone, they may be able to help you. Be sure to ask your doctor about all treatment options available so that you can make the best choices for your body.
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