If you don’t feel like you can leave the house, you might assume you’re just depressed. While not wanting to leave the house can be a symptom of depression, it’s more likely you have another condition called agoraphobia, a fear of open spaces.
Although agoraphobia isn’t common, it’s associated with anxiety. It’s more common if you’ve experienced traumatic events, as well as if you have untreated panic disorder. The providers at 2nd Chance Treatment Center explain more about the link between being afraid to leave the house and having anxiety.
Symptoms of agoraphobia
If you’re afraid to leave the house, you may have other symptoms, too. Some of the symptoms of agoraphobia may include:
- Pounding, fast heartbeats
- Sweating, shaking, or trembling
- Feeling suddenly hot or cold
- Chest pain
- Breathing problems
- Nausea or diarrhea
- Feeling dizzy or faint
You don’t have to experience all of these to have agoraphobia. The issue is the degree to which you experience the problems; if they’re significant enough to interfere with your life, you need to get treatment.
Other environments you may fear
In addition to being afraid of leaving the house, you may also experience other common fears, including:
- Being in an open space, like a shopping mall or a parking lot
- Being in an enclosed space, like a small office or an elevator
- Being in a crowd or waiting in line
- Being on public transportation, including buses or airplanes
You may either avoid these situations altogether or feel like you need someone to go with you. Although it’s not unusual to sometimes feel uneasy in certain situations, the hallmark of agoraphobia is that you experience the symptoms for at least six months.
The link between agoraphobia and anxiety
One thing that’s challenging about agoraphobia is that it’s nearly impossible to avoid the situations that trigger it. You have to confront your fears on a regular basis.
Anxiety is at the root of this fear. You need to learn how to manage your anxiety — and to do so without resorting to anti-anxiety medications, which can be addictive.
Medications designed to combat anxiety, such as alprazolam (Xanax®) or diazepam (Valium®) work very quickly to alleviate anxiety, but they’re incredibly addictive. These medications act on the GABA receptors of the brain, and they relax you in the same way that alcohol does. You can quickly develop a dependence on this class of medications, called benzodiazepines, which can be extremely difficult to stop taking.
Alternatives to managing your anxiety
Although your agoraphobia and panic may be difficult to deal with, we can help you learn to manage them without addictive drugs. Some of the techniques we use include the following:
Behavioral therapy consists of two therapeutic techniques: motivational interviewing and supportive therapy.
Motivational interviewing works by facilitating your intrinsic motivations to eliminate unwanted behaviors. It’s non-judgmental and non-confrontational.
Supportive therapy attempts to make you aware of how your behavior affects your life and how you can change it. We work together to make you see that change is possible and that you can achieve it.
We teach you how to get through anxiety-producing situations by using breathing exercises. Meditation may also help.
You can also reduce the symptoms of your agoraphobia by limiting your intake of caffeine and alcohol. It can also help to exercise regularly and to eat a healthy diet.
If you’re having trouble engaging in life, you deserve to be happy again. Call the providers at 2nd Chance Treatment Center, or make an appointment online.