- Mental Health»
- Anxiety Disorders
Agoraphobia, Panic Or Anxiety Attacks
Although agoraphobics can suffer from the fear of open spaces, this is not always the case. It is more likely that these sufferers have a fear of having a panic attack, which can take place literally anywhere.
Panic attacks are also known as anxiety attacks, and they are quite common. They can be quite severe, causing vomiting and diarrhea in some cases. Some people have not left their homes for years due to this problem.
Disclaimer: Any advice or information in this lens is for interest only, as I am not a doctor or health professional. If you are having problems with these attacks, please see a Medical Practitioner.
If You Have A Problem, Please Get Help!
If you think you or a friend or family member might be suffering from agoraphobia, or a related problem, get professional help as soon as you can! This kind of problem only gets worse if left untreated. Your GP will be able to refer you to a professional who deals with this type of thing, or sometimes there are free clinics in your local area.
Don't let yourself become housebound - it's not incurable. Just admitting you have a problem is a step in the right direction. Don't let what other people think stop you, just get help at your own pace.
Remember, agoraphobia isn't forever, unless you let it!
Make yourself free from panic and agoraphobia
Also known as Social Anxiety
Sometimes, agoraphobia is caused by, or is linked to, social anxiety. What is "Social Phobia" or "Social Anxiety"? There's a good explanation HERE.
Some of the symptoms of social phobia may cause real social isolation. For example, a person suffering with this debilitating problem may be unable to do something as simple as answer the phone.
Some people are unable to shop, or even walk down the street, or to their letter boxes, because of the fear that people are watching them. Students may find it extremely difficult to attend classes; workers are unable to attend meetings, or if they attend, may find it difficult to speak or participate in any way.
Because of a fear of meeting people, many sufferers will stay inside their homes, as it is the only place where they feel secure.
Social anxiety or social phobia, is not a very well known problem, so sufferers may find it difficult to get help. It can be diagnosed as other mental illnesses, such as manic depression, or schizophrenia.
If you feel that this might be something that affects you, or a member of your family, you will need to get help. This is not an easy problem to defeat, but it can be helped. Don't let it ruin your life.
General Information On Panic Attacks
It is said that about 35 percent of people will have a panic or anxiety attack at some time during their lives.
"Panic attacks are common with up to 35 percent of the population experiencing a panic attack at some time in their lives." - Source www.panicattackpedia.com. Other sources put the percentage as low as 12 percent, but whichever is correct, that's a lot of people suffering from these attacks.
Agoraphobia is a common label for these attacks, but there are many causes. An attack may be a once in a lifetime event, or PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) may be the initiating factor, such as the sudden and unexpected death of a relative or friend.
Panic or anxiety attacks are very sudden, and may happen at any time, even when one is sitting comfortably at home, with no reason for one to happen. Women are much more likely than men to suffer from this disorder.
Symptoms Of Anxiety Attacks
Here are some of the more common symptoms of panic or anxiety attacks, which occur with agoraphobia:
- Racing heart
- Discomfort in the chest
- Feeling hot or cold
- Nausea, which can sometimes lead to vomiting
- Hyperventilation, which can cause faintness or dizziness
- Feeling you are losing control
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Feeling as if you are going to choke
- Detachment from your surroundings
- Feeling that you are about to die
All of these symptoms can appear with an attack, but fortunately it is rare to get all of them at the same time.
Some of these symptoms can be caused by hyperventilation, which can be helped by breathing into a paper bag, or into one's hands.
Find your way back out to a real life. You can go and do what you like without fear
Dealing With An Anxiety Or Panic Attack
If you find yourself having a panic attack, here are a few things you can try to alleviate the symptoms:
- Breathe slowly and deeply, making sure you exhale properly
- If you have one handy, breathe into a paper bag, if not, use your hands cupped over your mouth. This will help to correct your blood acid level.
- Close your eyes for 15 - 20 seconds, and relax as much as possible, breathing slowly and deeply.
- Think of something good in your life, or concentrate on the scenery, a book, or whatever is available.
- Try to work through the attack and continue with what you were doing.
- Carrying a bottle of water, and sipping it when feeling anxious has been known to help some people.
If you have frequent attacks, you may need professional help. See your GP and get a referral to someone who specialises in this type of disorder.
Treatment For Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia, And Anxiety Attacks
First of all, it is important that these attacks are diagnosed correctly, as they may be interwoven to a certain extent. Panic attacks may occur without agoraphobia, for example, but may also bring it on.
The body's "flight or fight" mechanism causes many of the symptoms associated with panic attacks. This is the body's build in mechanism for avoiding danger, and it often cuts in uneccessarily, causing panic attack symptoms. You can learn to recognise these symptoms, and then to avoid them.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you understand and change the thoughts which are causing your condition. Anti-depressants can also help, but of course should only be used when prescribed by a doctor.
Pleasant mental imagery and relaxation therapies may be used in the treatment of panic disorders, as may bio-feedback.
A good diet, plenty of sleep, and a healthy lifestyle are also of benefit.
With behavioural therapy, or with medication, many patients can get better. Early help is needed, however, or the disorder may become more severe, and therefore more difficult to treat.
It is important for a sufferer of these disorders to admit they have a problem, and to seek help as soon as possible.
There Are Many Causes Of Anxiety
Recently I've been doing some research on anxiety and panic attacks, and have discovered that they are very common in those people with thyroid problems. Depression can also be caused by thyroid problems.
If you do have any of these symptoms, it may be worth having it checked out by your GP. DO NOT put up with depression or anxiety, as the sooner you have it treated, the easier it will be to cure it.
Phobias can be helped, but you need to work through it. It's worth it in the end.