Agoraphobia literally translated means fear of the market place. For sufferers it is the fear of going out into public open or enclosed spaces. For most people it seems to build up over a period of time until venturing out becomes more and more difficult.
Panic Attacks and Agoraphobia are often part of the same condition.
When I have talked to people who suffer with agoraphobia they often talk of being afraid of panicking in public and showing themselves up.
The condition is often characterised by the sufferer being afraid to move out of a comfort zone unless accompanied by a supporting person. One client I had would only go to the local shop and would not go to town or another place unless accompanied by her daughter or a close friend. This would include driving or travelling by public transport.
She eventually bought a holiday cottage in the country and travelled there regularly on her own.
At the extreme some people are afraid to even leave their own homes.
Interestingly some people do not want to cure their phobias as they gain secondary benefits from maintaining it. I once visited a woman with severe agoraphobia who refused to have the treatment that I offered as it threatened her comfortable set up. She had people doing her shopping and people who visited her. She was very well looked after. Why should she change?
Many cases of agoraphobia arise from an initial episode of panic attack. The individual then becomes afraid of going into a place where a panic attack could occur and avoids them. This can build up over time to limit the sphere in which it is safe to move.
For some the limits to move about in are quite broad with only specific areas being off producing feelings of fear. For instance, a woman I worked with could travel by public transport to work everyday but found herself unable to visit all large supermarkets.
If you suffer form agoraphobia it can be transformed to allow you to operate comfortably in all places.
The routes to follow are through therapy or self help.
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