Envision how life-altering being physically scared of open space must be. Imagine how difficult it must be to live in fear of leaving home. Picture the torment of constantly needing escape plans from certain environments. All of these portrayals in fact showcase the symptoms of agoraphobia.
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Agoraphobia is one of the most common, specific phobias accounted for, linked to panic disorder.
Commonly developed through adulthood, agoraphobia is mainly defined as the fear of open, uncontrollable spaces. However, there are many more complex experiences, linked to environmental worries, which cause the reflection of social anxiety.
From staying home, with the intentions to avoid mass public presence, to the fears of being alone, to risks of certain environments and the avoidance of them down to a lack of escape plans, agoraphobia can manifest in a number of different ways.
Such fear can be very difficult to live with, reducing the ability to lead a normal life full of adventure and social exposure.
While worrying about certain risks is normal, if you are struggling to experience the exposure of open spaces, have attachment issues, or place significant emphasis on the fear of emergencies, it’s time to consider agoraphobia treatment.
At Nova Recovery Scotland, we’re here to offer just that, helping you come to terms with and work through your symptoms of agoraphobia.
The true meaning of agoraphobia
‘What is agoraphobia?’ is a common question which we receive here at Nova Recovery Scotland, surrounding personal concern of fear or phobia. Many individuals lack awareness of its true meaning, as it’s mainly linked to the concern of open spaces.
This is true, agoraphobia does reflect the fear of settings that are wide-spanning. However, it can also describe a number of different behaviours, all surrounding the hazards of environments or engagements.
Symptoms of agoraphobia can be triggered through using public transport, visiting populated areas, visiting new settings, being alone within such settings, leaving the house to engage in open areas, and concerns over personal safety.
While some of these behaviours also mimic those of social anxiety and generalised anxiety, agoraphobia is an independent phobia, which can be diagnosed medically through physical examination and avoidance assessments.
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Causations of agoraphobia disorder
Agoraphobia is a direct consequence of panic. The majority of individuals who experience such fears have pre-existing experiences of panic attacks and symptoms of panic, which have subconsciously been attached to certain areas, surroundings or actions.
For example, panic may have been experienced on public transport, which has now developed into a phobia, resulting in reduced inclination of utilising public transport for the future. Feelings and emotions can be transmitted and remembered, which if traumatic or fearful, can be pinned to certain stimuli, amounting to symptoms of agoraphobia.
Panic may not be the catalyst for every individual. Trauma, stress or genetics can increase vulnerabilities of agoraphobia for some people. However, panic is common causation, which if untreated or undiagnosed, can develop into specific phobias, such as agoraphobia.
As phobias are linked to both panic and anxiety disorders, there’s a high chance that many of the symptoms will be mutual. Those mutual symptoms include:
- Feelings of uncontrollable panic
- Physical symptoms including heightened heart rate, risk of palpitations, irritability, sweating, tremors, shakes and stomach cramps
- The constant feeling of worry
- Reduced self-awareness and confidence
- Unjustifiable feelings of depression, panic and/or anxiety
- Mental health issues, standing as secondary symptoms
Symptoms specific to agoraphobia that are considered for a diagnosis include:
- Fear over leaving the house
- Extreme worry over visiting new places
- The need for an escape plan for every visit
- Overthinking every visit outside of the home
- The avoidance of certain places or settings
- The inclination to visit areas with mass interest
- The use of avoidance strategies to avoid leaving the house or visiting certain areas
- Feeling uneasy while alone, whether at home or within open spaces
Paired together, it’s clear to see how impactful agoraphobia can be as a disorder. The physical symptoms of anxiety can be difficult to live with, never mind with the pairing of fear or overthinking. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, looking for a medical diagnosis will be encouraged, followed by the completion of agoraphobia treatment.
Agoraphobia treatment here at Nova Recovery
Just by considering the symptoms of agoraphobia, it’s clear to see the severity that such fear can have on life. The simplest task of taking public transport or visiting a shop can be deterred by extreme feelings of anxiety.
Down to this, if you’re struggling, we encourage you to consider agoraphobia treatment, available here at Nova Recovery.
Focusing on the development of agoraphobia, psychological treatment options will be the most beneficial, to understand the deeper causation of such fear, while desensitising natural responses.
Cognitive behavioural therapy is one of the most recommended forms of treatment for phobias, as it works through steppingstones of uncovering causations, offering clarity, and changing responses.
Lifestyle changes will also be recommended throughout agoraphobia treatment, as symptoms of anxiety can be regulated for some individuals by prioritising routine. You’ll be encouraged to experience balance, focus on your nutrition, and avoid unhealthy coping strategies.
Exposure therapy will also play a part in treatment, to assess how progress is going and to understand whether management can be fulfilled. The service of exposure therapy is highly beneficial as it provides a clear insight into responses, prior to leaving rehab.
Medications can be prescribed to work alongside psychological streams of agoraphobia treatment. However, as such behaviours can already lead to depression, medication will be the last resort to avoid the risk of dual diagnosis.
Through focused, suitable and personal recommendations of agoraphobia treatment, symptoms can be suppressed, understanding can be formed around causations, and management tools can be promoted to help ease the fear of open spaces.
At Nova Recovery we are equipped with appropriate treatment, standing as a mental health recovery hospital in Scotland.
Contact our team for more information on agoraphobia treatment, along with the diagnosis process.