Are You Afraid Of Leaving Your House?
Orlando Anxiety Specialist Shares Treatment Information
Orlando anxiety therapists at GroundWork Counseling provide evidence-based methods to help individuals overcome their anxiety through cognitive behavioral therapy.
Are you afraid or unable to leave your house? Are you only comfortable within your special “safety zone”? Do you need someone to stay at home with you in order to make you feel safe? Can you only cope with anxiety-producing situations if a person who makes you feel safe accompanies you? If so, you may be suffering from Agoraphobia.
Agoraphobia is a fear of being in a situation or place from which you believe you cannot escape or in which you believe there will be no one there to help you if you experience panic symptoms or a panic attack.
Typically, Agoraphobia develops after a panic attack. A person may first experience a panic attack for a variety of reason:
- Prolonged stress
- Pressures at work or at home
- Change in lifestyle
- Genetic predisposition
- A temperament that is sensitive to stress
Because having a panic attack is truly frightening, the person begins to develop a fear that a panic attack will happen again and the situations or place in which the anxiety attack happened is avoided. Over time, the situation or place in which the panic attack occurred, becomes “generalized” so that the person begins to fear more and more places and things and eventually, the person is unable to leave their own home. For some sufferers, the disorder becomes so severe that they are unable to leave the house even to retrieve their newspaper or collect the mail from their mailbox. From the first panic attack, Agoraphobia can develop quite quickly or develop over many years and it can progress from a somewhat mild anxiety to an inability to enter any type of public place outside of one’s safety zone or a place from where “escaping” may be difficult.
Common places that are feared in Agoraphobia include:
- Grocery stores
- Shopping centers
- Public transportation
In order to be helpful, loved ones often accommodate the person with Agoraphobia, which unfortunately, only helps to maintain the symptoms and contribute to its persistence. By accommodating the person’s avoidance, loved ones prevent the person with Agoraphobia from learning that they can actually manage intense anxiety and panic and that their fear of having something catastrophic occur for which they won’t be able to get help is unfounded.
Common accommodation behaviors by loved ones include:
- Accompanying the individual on all errands
- Providing reassurances of being safe
- Going shopping for the individual
- Not leaving the individual home alone
Agoraphobia affects about one-third of all people with panic disorder and it is twice as common in women as it is in men. As with a panic disorder, it is physical symptoms that escalate anxiety in Agoraphobia.
These physical symptoms vary from person to person and can include:
- Feeling faint, dizzy or light-headed
- Blurred vision
- Tingling in arms or legs
- Heart palpitations
- Ringing in ears
- Fear of dying, going crazy or having a heart attack
Not everyone who experiences anxiety attacks will become Agoraphobic and it is not clear why some individuals with panic attacks become Agoraphobic and others do not. However, it is agreed that if you do suffer from panic attacks, you can avoid Agoraphobia by facing your fears and dealing with your anxiety attacks head on.
Living with Agoraphobia can be very isolating and lonely but recovery from Agoraphobia is possible. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a proven treatment for panic disorder and Agoraphobia, can greatly improve quality of life for individuals suffering from Agoraphobia. At GroundWork Counseling in Orlando, CBT therapists utilize cognitive restructuring and exposure and response prevention (ERP) techniques to help you learn that panic and anxiety are not dangerous and that you do not need to depend on avoidance, significant others or safety strategies to keep you safe.
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