Agoraphobia is linked to the experience of panic attacks. This is the fear of open spaces or of being in crowded, public places like shopping markets. It’s associated with leaving a safe zone, such as the home.
Because of feeling vulnerable, people who experience this fear often suffer from panic attacks in these “open” situations. It’s true to say that many people who have regular panic attacks experience different degrees of agoraphobia. Some have a lingering background anxiety about being away from home should they experience a panic attack. Others are so immobilized by this fear that they find it very difficult to leave their homes for even a short period.
When beginning agoraphobia treatment, the primary issue to address is believing in the safe zone. To clarify, when I talk about the “safe zone,” I refer to the zone where the person believes panic attacks don’t occur, or at least where they occur infrequently. Because comfort is found there, it’s where the person tends to spend more and more time. The safe zone from anxiety is a myth sustained by the mind. The mind has developed a habit of thinking that dictates the safe zone is the only place to feel secure.
If you are seeking agoraphobia treatment, 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.
The reality of anxiety is that there’s no such thing as a safe zone. There’s 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 immediately rushes to tell you that a desert island is a ridiculous place to be because there are no hospitals, no tranquilizers, no doctors, NO SAFETY.
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?
Yes, when it comes to conditions that need medical attention—such as asthma, diabetes, and a whole litany of 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 he or she can move.
I know more than anyone how terrifying it can feel to move out of your safe zone as the feeling of fear wells up inside, so I don’t wish to sound harsh. Agoraphobia treatment is not about chastising people for their behaviors. It’s 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. I also realize that people around you can’t understand why a trip to the store would cause you such discomfort. You’ll have to forgive them and try not to be upset by their lack of understanding of your problem.
There’s one thing I’m sure you’ll agree with: the only person who will get you out of agoraphobic thinking is you. These are your thoughts that are creating the prison walls, and only you can begin to bring those walls down. Agoraphobia treatment can be a slow process at first. But once the results start happening, it moves faster and faster until you reach a point where you find it hard to believe that going out was ever such a difficult task. You will get those results with my program, Panic Away.