Agoraphobia is a disorder typically characterized by a difficulty with leaving one’s home. A person usually experiences extreme difficulty with several situations out in public, such as using transportation, being in a crowd, or being an a lecture hall. People with agoraphobia typically have one or more people that they rely on to go with them places. In many cases, people with agoraphobia experience panic attacks, and sometimes their agoraphobia is the end of result of having had previous negative experiences with panic attacks in public situations. Agoraphobia can be accompanied by a variety of other concerns. Because people with agoraphobia often lead constricted or fearful lives, depression, substance use, and other interpersonal problems may arise.
Agoraphobia is often treated with a form of Cognitive Behavior Therapy. In treatment, a person with agoraphobia may do the following:
- Learn skills for coping with and tolerating anxiety, such as deep breathing or other relaxation exercises.
- Examine and challenge underlying beliefs related to their fears. For example, this may include writing down a person’s fears of what may happen in public, then setting up an experiment where a person can see if that fear actually comes true.
- Develop a plan to gradually reintroduce someone to the situations they have been avoiding.
- Find new, more helpful ways of thinking about situations that are presently scary.
- Enhance one’s life situation by building or rebuilding social support, hobbies, and other meaningful and fulfilling endeavors.
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