If you avoid situations that might cause you to panic, if you feel unsafe in public places, especially in crowds, then you may have an anxiety disorder called agoraphobia.
“I’m afraid to go to the grocery store because I might start to panic and be totally helpless.”
Symptoms of agoraphobia include an overwhelming fear of losing control in public, fear of being in crowded spaces, fear of being in places that are hard to exit, such as elevators or airplanes, and the inability to leave your house for a long time. Many people with agoraphobia also experience a fear of being alone.
“I’m stuck in the house because I can’t bring myself to go anywhere.”
Breaking Free of Fear
If the fear of panic attacks has you housebound, then it’s time to get help. Call your health care provider for a referral. Agoraphobia is curable, when treated with a combination of medications and psychotherapy.
“It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but now I have my life back.”
Coping and Calming Skills
There are some steps you can take on your own to help you cope with agoraphobia:
- Practice going places that frighten you. Ask family, friends and your therapist for help.
- Learn calming skills. Your therapist can teach you methods to soothe yourself at the first sign of anxiety.
- Practice relaxation techniques. Choose a time when you aren’t anxious or worried and practice meditation, yoga or guided imagery.