Overcome Your Agoraphobia, Reclaim Your Life

reclaim-your-life

It started off quite simply… given the numerous and growing number of public shootings in the past years, you chose to be careful in the places you frequented. You began to avoid large crowds and things like public festivals or fireworks displays – there was just too much room for error and for something to go awry.

But that fear and your avoidance of public continued to grow.

You began to feel fearful in everyday places that you previously felt safe – even the grocery store became scary. It grew to transportation, such as busses or the metro – anything that made you feel confined and trapped, like you wouldn’t be able to escape if you needed to.

These days, you barely leave the house unless forced and have even had to leave your job to find one that would allow you to work from the safety of your home.

To say the least, your fear has grown to become life changing. You no longer see your friends. You no longer enjoy going out. And your career has changed and switched paths.

What started as a fear has bloomed into uncontrollable agoraphobia – and it is now controlling you.

Exploring Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is not just one phobia, but rather a grouping of various phobias that can include fears of leaving the home, fears of public or open spaces – such as shopping malls, movie theaters, or concerts – and travelling alone.

This branch of panic disorders causes the sufferer to avoid situations that may cause them to feel trapped, helpless, or embarrassed. Sufferers often feel unprotected in most situations or locations, often avoiding them all together, though some are able to face public places with the help of a familiar companion, such as a close friend or family member.

Studies estimate that approximately 3.2 million adults within the United States (or approximately 2.2 percent) suffer from this life changing phobia.

Most agoraphobia stems from a conditioned response – for example, a strong reaction following 9/11 and an empathetic response that turned to severe fear of being in a similar environment in the future.

People officially diagnosed with agoraphobia have a fear or anxiety about a minimum of two of the following situations:

o Being in enclosed spaces, such as shopping malls, movie theaters, or schools

o Standing in line or being in a crowd

o Leaving their home by themselves

o Being in an open space, such as a park, parking lot, or public street, or on a bridge

o Using public transportation, including, but not limited to, a boat, plane, train, bus, or metro system

Their fears and anxieties are more than just closely held – they impact their relationships and how they live their life, often times restricting their options, behaviors, and self. They avoid situations that put them in the way of encountering the above scenarios, not only missing out on opportunities, but often destroying their own progress both personally and professionally.

Overcoming Your Agoraphobia

Like most phobias, to overcome agoraphobia, you have to look it in the eye. Because it is a form of a panic disorder, therapy is a must for most people. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one form commonly used, though medicinal approaches are also taken quite frequently for this phobia.

Of course, the first step to overcoming your phobia is to explore your own behavior and fear to determine whether your reactions are hindering your own life and progress. If your fear has become life changing, altering your relationships, personal life, and preventing your professional growth and performance, now is the time to take action.

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