Agoraphobia is a disorder that causes affected people a great deal of anxiety and distress. People who suffer from agoraphobia struggle to be comfortable in different types of environments and situations. In many cases, affected people will actively avoid triggering places, or places that cause them to feel high levels of anxiety, like buses, public places, or enclosed spaces. In severe cases, people can also be afraid to be in any environment besides their home, causing them to be hesitant to leave their houses or ‘safe spaces’.
Suffering from agoraphobia takes a major toll on a person’s life. Those who are affected face many challenges on a daily basis. Even completing the most simple or routine of tasks can cause an affected person to become very anxious. When a person suffers from anxiety, he or she will struggle with many things, like:
- Running errands
- Interacting with strangers
- Keeping up with work or school
- Taking care of himself or herself (mental health, physical health, wellness, self-care, etc.)
- Engaging in enjoyable activities
- Maintaining relationships
Each of these consequences of agoraphobia is difficult to cope with on a daily basis, and treatment for people with agoraphobia can be difficult, considering the struggle with unfamiliar environments and the way a patient is pushed to face fears and insecurities, and take steps outside his or her comfort zone. While it is understandable why a person with agoraphobia would struggle with seeking mental health treatment, it is the best option for affected people. Like all anxiety and mood disorders, there is no cure for agoraphobia. However, with proper treatment, the symptoms of agoraphobia can be treated, managed, reduced, and in many cases, put into remission.
Effective Forms Of Therapy For Agoraphobia
Research has found that the two most effective forms of mental health treatment for agoraphobia are:
Exposure therapy is a form of therapy that helps a patient who is suffering from agoraphobia take gradual steps to lessen the fear-response to the triggering element. The patient works with his or her therapist to desensitize him or her from the feared or anxious response when confronted with uncomfortable situations or environments. This is done by gradually exposing the patient to situations that he or she finds stressful or anxiety provoking. By gradually exposing the patient, he or she becomes desensitized and able to handle higher or more intense situations that he or she was not previously able to cope with.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is another effective form of therapy that helps a patient learn how to control his or her stress response to difficult situations. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps patients understand how their thoughts influence their emotions, and how their emotions trigger their behavior. In the case of agoraphobia, the patient will work to break down how thoughts trigger the anxiety or stress response, which triggers symptoms, and results in ‘fight-or-flight’ or self-preserving behavior. Once the patient has learned how to monitor his or her thoughts that trigger the anxiety, he or she will learn rationalization skills to challenge the negative thoughts with logic and reasoning, to remind the brain and body that there is no real threat present.