Sunday 4 May 2014

FACT FILE: Agoraphobia

Many people think Agoraphobia is a fear of open spaces, this is not strictly true.  In fact many people who have the condition are scared to go to the shops, be in large crowds, use public transport and even be scared to leave home. It is very complex condition which has symptoms similar to those who have generalised anxiety disorder.

  • Heart rate increases                                                                  
  • upset stomach
  • hyperventilating
  • dizziness
  • feeling warm
  • feeling sick
  • trembling 

Alongside the physical symptoms the person may worry that people will notice if they have a panic attack, that he panic attack will be fatal, that people will stop and stare.  This is not the case, in fact, the only person who will know what is happening is yourself. Shopping centres and public places in general are full of people who looks flustered and stressed as they rush around trying to get things done.

They may behave differently, not wanting to go too far from home, if they leave home at all, wanting someone with them when they go out, not visiting busy places, ordering their shopping online or relying on others to get it for them.  This is known as avoidance.

If you think this is you visit your GP.

There are many different ways to help you and your GP will help find the best way for you.

Treatments include

  • Self Help Groups
  • Counselling 
  • Medication

Your GP may encourage you to try some self help techniques. These are similar to the ones used in Anxiety disorders.

  • Stay in the situation - anxiety peaks then falls again
  • breathing - there are many great breathing techniques to try
  • Do not fight an attack - this will only make it worse, its not nice but its not harmful
  • understand your condition. Look into it, it really helps honestly 
  • Set yourself challenges - Stand outside your home for 5 minutes yourself, then build on time and distance,

I hope you have found this helpful. Please make an appointment for you or a loved one, if you think you or they have this condition.

Help is out there. You are not alone xx

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