Agoraphobia: Anxiety, Fear And Panic
Updated: Sep 8
Everyone experiences varying forms and degrees of anxiety during his/her lifetime.Some people become anxious when applying for that new job...others when they visit the dentist for their yearly check-up. Most of us would feel fear after narrowly surviving a major car accident or if held up at gunpoint by an intruder in our homes. The feelings arising from these incidents are considered rational and normal because there is a danger that is real and present. On the other hand, the anxiety and fear an agoraphobic experiences is considered irrational and abnormal because there is no danger real or present.
What usually happens to those who suffer severe symptoms of anxiety, fear and panic is that they will start to avoid the places and situations they know will make them uncomfortable, and that begins what I call the cycle of fear and avoidance. For instance, once a person has experienced a severe attack in a particular place, they will not under any circumstances go there again. I have clients who have attacks in certain stores, restaurants and malls and have vowed never to return to those places...yet they will eat or shop at other restaurants, stores, and malls in the same city. Most people will go blocks and even miles out of their way just to avoid the place where they experienced those uncomfortable symptoms.
I believe that if these anxieties and fears are not addressed promptly and properly the symptoms will eventually escalate in number and severity and create even greater fear avoidance. The problem with avoidance is that a person who started out with a fear of stores, restaurants and malls may soon find himself suddenly afraid of other places and situations such as theaters, libraries, and churches. If this continues without prompt and proper treatment a person will soon find that his world has become larger and more overwhelming. If this continues without prompt and proper treatment a person will soon find his world has become smaller and smaller, while the anxieties and fears have become larger and more overwhelming. It is not uncommon for depression to set in at this point. Add this to the person,s already overpowering physical and emotional symptoms and it is not hard to understand how someone can become housebound at this point.