Are you afraid of places you feel like you can't escape from?
Do you feel inhibited by this fear? Is it stopping you from normal activities, like going out or riding an elevator?
If you answered YES to any of these questions, you may have a condition called agoraphobia.
What is agoraphobia?
According to the Mayo Clinic, agoraphobia is "a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless, or embarrassed."
These places include:
open, enclosed, or crowded spaces
The fear stems from the thought that you might not be able to escape or get assistance. Therefore, some people can only go to these places with someone trustworthy, while others cannot leave their homes at all.
What are the signs and symptoms of agoraphobia?
Most people develop agoraphobia after they have one or more panic attacks and then subsequently avoid places that may trigger them.
Signs and symptoms of agoraphobia include:
Hyperventilating (rapid breathing)
Feeling sick, faint, or dizzy
General feelings of dread
You might also feel that you've lost control, won't be able to survive, embarrassed about your condition, or unwilling to go anywhere alone.
Who might have agoraphobia?
Zaynab loves shopping and partying, but she starts hyperventilating if she tries to enter room 303 of Crenshaw Medical Center. That's the room she delivered her baby in after her incredibly difficult pregnancy and labor period.
Erica lives an ordinary life, going between work and home every day. She goes to the grocery store occasionally. She meets friends and family at home, but if they ask her to come over or go out, she comes up with an excuse and politely declines.
Who do you think might have agoraphobia?
What to do next?
If you're showing signs and symptoms of agoraphobia, and it's affecting your quality of life, work on self-help techniques and seek professional help.
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