Agoraphobia is the fear of not having a way out or help when something dangerous happens. This fear can make a person feel trapped, helpless, and unsalvageable when in public spaces, crowded situations, or even public spaces.
People with agoraphobia tend to avoid traveling to public spaces or crowded places, such as shopping centers, cinemas, markets, or public transportation. They feel the need to be accompanied by the closest people when they are in public spaces so they can feel more comfortable.
Symptoms of Agoraphobia
Until now, the cause of agoraphobia is still not known with certainty. It is possible that this is genetic. However, a person with a history of repeated panic attacks is more prone to experience agoraphobia
Although rare, agoraphobia can also occur in people who do not have a history of panic attacks. Symptoms of agoraphobia are divided into 3, namely physical, behavioral, and cognitive symptoms.
The physical symptoms of agoraphobia resemble panic attacks. It is characterized by the following conditions:
- Body shaking and sweating
- Heart pounding and beating faster
- Difficult to breathe
- Chest pain
- Body feels cold or hot
- Nausea or diarrhea
- Dizzy until you feel almost faint
- Difficulty swallowing
- Ears ringing
- Feelings of fear of death
Symptoms of agoraphobia behavior can be seen when someone has a tendency to avoid crowded places, such as school cafeterias, markets, or even queues. Another behavior characteristic of agoraphobia is not being able to leave the house for months.
Even if they want to leave the house, they usually have to be accompanied by someone they believe can "save" them. This is because they fear that they cannot be saved when they are away from home.
A cognitive symptom of agoraphobia can be a fear of the fear itself and the effects of the physical symptoms it may experience. Cognitive symptoms are characterized by a number of fears in the form of:
- Fear of being looked at by others, feeling stupid, and embarrassed in front of people during a panic attack.
- Fear of not being able to escape the situation or place when having a panic attack.
- Fear of losing sanity and a clear mindset when interacting with other people.
- Fear of sudden loss of life due to difficulty breathing and palpitations during a panic attack.
How to Overcome Agoraphobia
If you or someone around you is experiencing symptoms of agoraphobia, consult a doctor immediately. The doctor will perform a thorough physical and mental condition examination to determine the appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
If the results of the examination are in accordance with agoraphobia, the doctor may provide treatment in the form of:
To restore the mental condition of people with agoraphobia, it is necessary to do psychotherapy with a psychiatrist or psychologist. Psychotherapy is done to help sufferers control themselves so they can deal with situations that usually cause fear in them.
One of the therapies used is cognitive behavioral therapy. This therapy aims to invite agoraphobia sufferers to be aware of what things can trigger or exacerbate fear and panic attacks. After that, sufferers are also trained to change their mindset towards the source of their fear.
Generally, doctors will give you antidepressant drugs or anti-anxiety drugs. Antidepressant drugs are more often used to control feelings of fear and prevent panic attacks. Commonly prescribed antidepressants are: sertraline and fluoxetine.
Meanwhile, anti-anxiety drugs are commonly used to relieve anxiety attacks that are currently happening. This medicine is not to be taken regularly. Anti-anxiety or sedative drugs that may be given are: benzodiazepines.
Consumption of both types of drugs can cause side effects in the form of physical complaints or even in the form of additional panic attacks. So, make sure you only take this as directed by your doctor.
In addition to psychotherapy and medication, agoraphobia sufferers also need to make lifestyle changes. Regular meditation can help you clear your mind when fears and panic attacks arise.
In addition, exercising regularly, eating healthy foods, and avoiding caffeinated and alcoholic beverages can also help increase blood pressure mood positive and stress relief.
Agoraphobia can make you look like you want to distance yourself from other people or even your family. In fact, you actually need the support of the closest people to deal with agoraphobia. So if you feel you have this condition, don't hesitate to express it and ask for help from them.
Accompanied by those closest to you can make you feel more secure. However, it would be nice if you also ask them to accompany you to consult a psychiatrist. That way, you can get the right examination and treatment for dealing with agoraphobia.