Living With Agoraphobia
What is Agoraphobia?
Agoraphobia is an extreme fear of open spaces. Someone who has agoraphobia is known as an agoraphobic. Agoraphobics usually have a difficult time leaving the safety of their own home and they usually have an irrational fear of having a panic attack in public. In extreme cases some are unable to leave their home at all. Agoraphobics may experience nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sweating, chills, trouble breathing, or racing heart when trying to leave their home. These symptoms are common symptoms of a panic attack. Panic attacks are very common with agoraphobics and can happen several times throughout the day depending upon how extreme their illness is.
How Do I Cope With Agoraphobia?
You may be asking yourself, "how do I cope with agoraphobia?" To the left of this section is a link to a workbook highly recommended for people with phobias and panic disorders. A few examples from this workbook called "The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook" by Edmund J Bourne is to say to yourself when you feel a panic attack coming on, "the feeling isn't pleasant, but I can accept it," or something such as "I'll let my body do its thing. This will pass." You may find that taking this workbook or another book on Agoraphobia with you when you have to leave will help you out tremendously. Most agoraphobics also have a "safe person" that must be with them at all times when they are forced to leave the safety of their home. This "safe person" usually helps the agoraphobic through their panic attacks.
Something else that is beneficial to agoraphobics is meditation. Just taking time out of their day to clear their minds and focus on their breathing can give agoraphobics a break from their anxiety and reduce their stress levels.
Something very important to remember is "do NOT fight the panic!" This can cause agoraphobics to feel worse. Just let the feelings pass calmly. Positive self talk during moments of panic can soothe the panic away in no time.
An Agoraphobic's Nightmare!
There are certain situations that cause the heaviest amount of stress and most extreme panic attacks for agoraphobics. One of those situations is the barbers chair. May be referred to as THE CHAIR to some agoraphobics. The barbers chair can make an agoraphobic feel trapped, causing a panic attack to creep it's way in like a wicked poison.
Another situation is being in a vehicle, and for the same reason - it makes them feel trapped. The fear of having a panic attack with nowhere to run or hide can spring the panic attack on the agoraphobic within seconds of being in the vehicle.
Standing in long lines can also trigger a panic attack for agoraphobics. The longer the line, the more they are reminded that they will not be getting out of there anytime soon. Many agoraphobics will leave the store before they will stand in a line where there's as little as two people.
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Don't Be Your Own Victim
Even the agoraphobics who have had years of practice in calming themselves down during tough situations still get panic attacks. Remember, most times we judge ourselves the harshest. Don't allow yourself to be your own victim. Take your workbook with you and read the "positive self talk" phrases, focus on steady breathing, relax, and when you start having an irrational fear like "am I having a heart attack due to my panic attack," remember there is no evidence of this. NONE.