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Diagnosis – Is Agoraphobia A Mental Illness?
Therapists and mental health experts consider agoraphobia a type of mental health disorder. The disease has several characteristics similar to other mental illnesses. For starters, it affects the sufferer’s ability to live a normal life. Furthermore, it requires therapy and medication to get the condition under control.
Therefore, if you’re showing signs of agoraphobia, the first step is to seek medical advice. For this, you’ll need to see a licensed therapist. It’s best to see one that specializes in agoraphobia or anxiety disorders for the best results.
When you go in for your assessment, the therapist will do several things to ensure a proper diagnosis. For starters, they will ask about your family history. In addition to this, the therapist will give you an agoraphobia symptoms test.
Furthermore, the therapist will be interested in finding out how often and for how long you’ve been having the symptoms. Also, expect other personal questions like how work is going, where your triggers mostly happen, and other related questions.
The therapist may also carry out several physical tests to rule out any other condition that may be causing your symptoms. In most cases, therapists take blood and urine tests for this. The therapist will also analyze your symptoms before they conclude that you have agoraphobia. If you exhibit the following signs, the test will be considered positive:
- You’re anxious about being away from home for an extended period of time.
- You get anxious and afraid in enclosed spaces such as cars and elevators.
- You’re anxious in crowded places.
- The thought of spending time from home alone makes you panic
- Feeling a loss of control
- Difficulty breathing
- A fear of dying
- Trouble breathing
- Upset stomach or diarrhea
Can Agoraphobia Be Treated?
Agoraphobia is a debilitating condition for the victim. They can’t carry out normal day-to-day activities because they’re overwhelmed with fear and panic. Fortunately, agoraphobia treatment works wonders. With the right treatment, the patient can go on to live a normal life.
Therapists use different treatment techniques to get agoraphobia under control. You should expect the following treatment techniques to be implemented:
Also referred to as talk therapy, this treatment involves meeting with a mental health treatment expert regularly. The purpose of these treatment sessions is to give you a chance to talk about what you’re going through in a safe space.
These treatment sessions are often short-term. The therapy aims at helping you take control of your fears and anxiety. Therefore, when the psychologist believes you’ve made progress and you can keep your symptoms in check, they may discontinue the treatment sessions.
However, in most cases, this treatment is combined with medications to ensure the patient is getting effective treatment. Your therapist may also require you to keep taking the medications when you’re done with counseling treatment sessions to keep your symptoms under control.
Exposure Therapy for Agoraphobia
As its name suggests, exposure therapy is a treatment that involves exposing the patient to the things they fear most. But don’t fret. Your therapist won’t push you to the deep end before you’re ready. Counseling experts are trained on how to give a tailor-made treatment approach to each patient.
Therefore, during the treatment sessions, your therapist will be keen to observe how much you’re capable of taking. Next, the therapist will start exposing you to your fears bit by bit. Before you know it, your fear of certain places and situations will have drastically reduced.
However, keep in mind that this treatment may take some time to yield results. After all, it took time to develop the fear.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is perhaps one of the most commonly used treatment techniques for treating agoraphobia. In CBT treatment, the therapist has one goal – to help you understand that you have distorted views and feelings that are causing the anxiety disorder.
Through the counseling treatment sessions, you also get to learn how to replace these distorted thoughts with healthy ones. As a result, when you’re having your episodes, it easier to rewire your thinking and calm down. However, like with most therapy treatment techniques, it may take some time to get the skills you learn down.
Apart from agoraphobia therapy, your therapist may also prescribe some medication. Counseling treatment experts recommend certain drugs to keep panic attacks and fear under control. Some examples include:
How Do You Get Over Agoraphobia Fast?
The thought of attending counseling treatment sessions and taking medication can seem daunting, especially if you want to get your fear and anxiety under control as fast as possible. It’s normal. There is a common misconception that therapy isn’t necessary, and all you need is medication. Some people also believe that therapy treatment is for the weak, and only for very serious mental health issues.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s crucial to see a therapist if you’ve taken an agoraphobia quiz, and you check all the boxes. A licensed therapist will provide the tools you need to keep your symptoms under control, and they can prescribe medications based on your condition. Besides, it’s only through this kind of treatment that you can talk about your fears and find healthy ways to rewire your thinking without judgment.
Therefore, in your quest to find agoraphobia treatment, don’t go for quick treatment fixes that may not work. Find a therapist and get a proper treatment to cope effectively.
This said, there are certain lifestyle changes you could make that would make coping with the anxiety disorder way much easier. These include:
- Exercising: Physical activity promotes the production of endorphins, which are feel-good hormones that not only change your perception of pain but make you happier.
- Meditation: Helps you calm down, thereby reducing instances of panic and anxiety.
- Maintaining a healthy diet: A diet rich in fibers, vitamins, and minerals will boost your overall well-being and supplement your treatment.
- Joining a support group: Having like-minded people to talk to away from therapy, treatment and counseling sessions makes you feel less alone.
- Focus: In situations that may trigger a panic attack, try to focus on other things to distract you from the fear.
- Don’t run: When you’re in a situation that makes you want to escape, for instance, an elevator, try to stay where you are instead of panicking. Take deep breaths and focus on other things until the elevator tide is over.
- Challenge your fear: Make it a habit to analyze your source of fear, making sure to remind yourself that it’s not real. It won’t happen overnight, but you’ll learn how to get yourself through a tough situation.
- Embrace the attack: Accept that you’re having a difficult time, and no matter how embarrassing or scary it is, it’s not life-threatening.
What Famous Person Has Agoraphobia?
Top celebrities are not immune to agoraphobia and other anxiety disorders. Because their lives are packed with activities, crowded, and overly connected, they may be at a higher risk of the condition. Some of the celebrities that have reported having agoraphobia surprised most of their fans because they seemed to be doing just fine.
So, what is an example of agoraphobia? The perfect example is Paula Deen, a Food Network chef. For a long time, viewers knew her as the bubbly chef who seems to have everything figured out. It’s for this reason that fans were surprised when she revealed that she had been suffering from agoraphobia for 20 years and seeking treatment.
Other celebrities reported to have this anxiety disorder include:
- Psychiatrist Sigmund Freud
- Woody Allen
- Kim Basinger
Get Online Therapy for Agoraphobia
How can I get an agoraphobia specialist near me? If you’re asking this question, you have several options. For starters, you can do online research to identify licensed therapists in your area. However, when you’re looking for counseling treatment services, it’s crucial to focus on therapists who specialize in agoraphobia and other anxiety disorders. Also, read reviews on their website.
You can also get treatment recommendations from friends and relatives who have gotten treatment for this disorder. Just make sure you compare your options and go with the best therapist. Some of the factors to consider include; pricing, specialty, certifications, and education level.
However, when comparing the cost, make sure you take time to figure out if one therapy company’s price is higher than the other due to the treatment package on offer. This way, you’re guaranteed that you’re getting your money’s worth.
At DrMental, we have a lot of information on anxiety disorders as well. If you’re not sure where to start or what to expect, it may help to go through our site. Don’t postpone therapy. Counseling is the beginning of living a life free of fear and panic attacks.