thinking behind agoraphobia usually follows the line that were a panic
attack to occur, who would look after the person, how would he or she
get the assistance and reassurance they needed? The vulnerability grows
from the feeling that once victims of agoraphobia are caught in the
anxiety, they are suddenly unable to look after themselves and are
therefore at the mercy of the place they find themselves in and the
strangers around them. In its extreme form, agoraphobia and panic
attacks can lead to a situation where people become housebound for
numerous years. Please note, this is by no means a hopeless situation,
and I always need to reinforce the fact that something only becomes
hopeless once the person really believes that to be the case.
begin with, the primary issue that needs to be addressed is the belief
in the safe zone. To clarify, when I talk about safe zone, I am
referring to the zone where the person believes panic attacks do not
occur, or at least occur infrequently. As comfort is found there, it is
where the person tends to spend more and more time. The safe zone of
anxiety is a myth sustained by the mind. The mind has developed a habit
of thinking that dictates that being inside the safe zone is the only
place to feel secure and avoid agoraphobia and panic attacks. If
agoraphobia is an issue for you, watch as your mind comes up with
reasons why it believes only a certain area is safe and another is not.
Those reasons range from being near the phone or people you trust to
having familiar physical surroundings to reassure you.
reality of anxiety is that there is no such thing as a safe zone. There
is nothing life threatening about a panic attack, and therefore sitting
at home is the same as sitting under the stars on a desert island. Of
course, your mind will immediately rush to tell you that a desert island
is a ridiculous place to be as there are no hospitals, no tranquillisers,
no doctors, NO SAFETY.
need to review your previous experiences of panic attacks. Aren’t you
still here, alive and well, after all those attacks during which you
were convinced you were going to die?
may be that on occasions you have been driven to the hospital where they
did medicate you to calm you down, but do you really believe that you
would not have survived were it not for the drugs? You would have. If
the same bout of anxiety had occurred on this desert island, it too
would have passed, even if you were all alone. Yes, when it comes to
conditions that need medical attention such as asthma, diabetes, and a
whole litany or other conditions, then having medical aid nearby is a
big asset, but no doctor in the world would tell someone with anxiety
that there are only specific safe zones in which she or he can move.
know more than anyone how terrifying it can feel to move out of your
safe zone as the feeling of fear is welling up inside, I do not wish to
sound harsh. This course is not about chastising people for their
behaviours. It is a way of looking together at solutions and seeing
through the myths that form prison walls. The goal is to enable you to
return to a richer and more meaningful life and ultimately defeat your
agoraphobia and panic attacks. I also realize that people around you
cannot understand why a trip to shops would cause you such discomfort.
You will have to forgive them and try not to be upset by their lack of
understanding of your problem.
individual such as a partner or family member has not had a similar
anxiety issue, that person may often find it hard to understand and
empathize with what you are going through. I am sure you have been
dragged out of the house numerous times against your will, kicking and
screaming. This can then lead to tensions and arguments and is upsetting
as it can make you feel less understood by those around you. People
around agoraphobics are often simply trying what they feel is best. If
you can see that their intentions are well meaning (although often
misguided), then you will be able to relate to them better and help
sooth any potential conflicts.
is one thing I am sure you will agree with, and that is that the only
person who will get you out of agoraphobic thinking is yourself. These
are your thoughts, and only you can begin to change that pattern.
Dealing with long term agoraphobia and panic attacks is a slow process
to begin with, but once the results start happening, it moves faster and
faster until you reach a point where you will find it hard to believe
that going out was such a difficult task.
Joe Barry is an international panic disorder coach. His informative site
on all issues related to panic and anxiety attacks can be found here:
This article is copywritten material (Reprinted with permission)