Fighting Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia covers far more social situations than the widely known inability to leave the house. It also includes  fear of being alone, fear of crowded places, fear of losing control in public, places that appear difficult to leave, helplessness and a need to be over dependent on others. Not of which should be dismissed.
Symptoms include:
Rapid heart rate
Excessive sweating
Trouble breathing
Shaking, numbness, tingling
Chest pains
Dizziness
Flush/ chills
Upset stomach
Loss of control
Panic attacks
Fear of dying
Before we go any further if you are experiencing any of these symptoms I would strongly recommend you consult your doctor. However there are tools you can build up to help yourself.
1. Learn to control your breathing. – when you feel the symptoms coming on, slow regular breathing will help to release them. Yoga or Pilate’s is a good way of learning but if you’re not exercise inclined or can’t do them for some reason, practice daily emptying your mind of all thoughts and worries and concentrating on listening to you deep breaths going slowly in and out.
2. Learn to relax your muscles- again this exercise can be used to combat symptoms and stop them from escalating. Start by laying on the floor, deliberately relax each part of your body, starting at your toes and working up, until you feel completely relaxed. Once you can do it lying down practice doing it sitting and standing. Combining the breathing and muscle relaxation together has the best results.
3. Try and work out exactly what you are afraid of- try writing down your fears. The key to this exercise working is to not think to hard about it. Just list everything that comes in to your head.
4. Realistic thinking- once you have a list it’s time to start challenging your fears and trying to bring them down to a more manageable size. For example if your frightened of going outside. What do you imagine will happen? Logically what is the realistic chance of that happening? This is not a quick exercise you will probably have to do it many times before your brain begins to release some of its anxiety.
5. Facing your fear- unfortunately the only real change to Agoraphobia is to teach yourself how to face the fear. Using the above skills you’ve been practising start with something small. If you are afraid to leave the house. Try sitting on the doorstep. Try to make it all the way through your exercises before going back in. Once you’re relatively comfortable with that step challenge yourself to something a little harder.
6. The most important step of all Praise and Reward yourself for every single achievement no matter how big or small.
Another important thing to remember is you are not weird or defective or any other derogatory term you or others may have called you. Anxiety in all its forms is a real and debilitating problem. With determination and hard work you can win the battle and regain control of your life. Keep your goal in mind and celebrate every step. You are a warrior!

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