For the millions of people suffering from anxiety attacks and panic disorders every year, handling stressful situations or maintaining a balanced lifestyle can be a challenge. Many people who have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder may also experience agoraphobia, an intense fear of having an anxiety attack in public. For many people an anxiety attack may lead to being judged or ridiculed, so the person may try and avoid social situations solely because of this fear.
According to MedicalNewsToday.com, “the anxiety associated with agoraphobia is so severe that panic attacks are not unusual, and individuals with agoraphobia typically try to avoid the location or cause of the fear.” There are several ways to recognize the signs and symptoms of agoraphobia. Most people develop this phobia after experiencing several panic attacks in public, and experiencing the intense feelings of ‘being out of control.’
Someone with agoraphobia is often afraid of being in a situation where they are too far away from home, or being home alone. Some may feel fearful when they are in a large crowd such as at a concert, sports game, theme park or even a shopping center. Some people experience extreme anxiety when they are traveling in a car, bus or plane. Others may experience extreme anxiety by being in an elevator, underground train, or other constricted space where they have limited options to ‘escape.’
One of the most distinguishing features of agoraphobia is that the person will experience extreme anxiety in any situation where it can be difficult to escape, or it may be embarrassing to leave. This means that the person will avoid situations where they must follow a crowd, or do something where they cannot walk away if they start to feel uncomfortable.
Some of the key signs and symptoms of agoraphobia are: intense, often irrational fear about being in a public place; avoidance of a particular place or situation; canceling of trips or meetings out of fear of an attack; and social withdrawal. Ultimately, agoraphobia can take its toll on the person’s emotional well-being and social life, making it very difficult for them to connect with other people in a natural, stress-free way.
Many people suffering from agoraphobia try and mange their feelings by developing another anxiety disorder or problem. Some try and numb their feelings by overeating, drinking alcohol, or consuming caffeine or nicotine. Others may turn to obsessive-compulsive disorder for relief; in this situation, the person becomes preoccupied with rituals and order in order to alleviate their symptoms and feel some level of relief.
Agoraphobia is not a diagnosed panic disorder, but is one of several anxiety problems that plagues millions of people every year. If it is left unaddressed for an extensive period of time, the person may start to withdraw from society, be unable to perform at their job, and have difficulty forming close relationships. All of these symptoms can be treated with medical intervention, therapy and even natural supplements. A combination of lifestyle changes and changes in behavior can help many people overcome the effects of agoraphobia so that they can enjoy life again.