I have been experiencing panic attacks since March of 2014. I had my first panic attack while sitting in my car, on a break at work. I was doing something innocuous like checking Facebook, and it hit me out of no where. My heart was racing, breathing was difficult, I was dizzy and felt like my head was 'in a bubble'. I remember clawing at my collar bone, feeling as if there was something there restricting my breath. I went back into work and continued my day through the feelings which came in waves. For the next 4 days I trudged through those feelings, thinking I was getting sick with a cold or something. I even tried taking a cold medication thinking it was mucous in my lungs making me feel like I couldn't breath. Taking this medication actually made me feel worse; I started panicing about taking a pill, and my symptoms worsened. I also had a severe stabbing pain in my left shoulder blade, and I managed to find one random website online that indicated that that could be a symptom of a heart attack. This only made me panic more, and again, my symptoms worsened. I still had not at this point even thought that I was experiencing a panic attack. Finally, when I could not walk more than 10 feet without having to sit down due to being dizzy and out of breath, I paniced, called my husband to come home from work, and went to Urgent Care (I did not have insurance at the time and did not want to pay out of pocket for something I was sure would pass). I was doubled over in the waiting room, convinced that I was going to pass out. The nurse came out and took my blood oxygen level, and I was fully oxygenated. I finally met with a doctor, who told me I was having a four day long panic attack and perscribed Xanax. My husband and I picked up dinner on the way home and I sat, staring at the pill, crying because I was so scared, until I finally took it. I felt 150% better. Everything was beautiful, I was on a fucking cloud lmao! It really did wonders.
Since that attack, I've had one almost on the dot every other Wednseday, with a few peppered in between. I have many mini ones as well where it feels as if a wave of anxiety hits me and then passes within a few minutes but they are not as severe as the heart racing, can't focus on anything else attacks. The mini ones are usually triggered by a pain in my chest on various sides, usually attributable to gas or muscle spasms (but that doesn't stop the panic, does it?). I try now to just recognize them as Panic Attacks and let them pass but it's not always easy. I also found a questionnaire online that I fill out everytime I'm in the midst of an attack. This helps me notice patterns and inconsistencies in my symptoms as well as helps me accuratly monitor the frequency of my attacks and mini attacks.
I feel normal but for this agoraphobia for the most part. I am homebound and dealing with agoraphobia and panic attacks over 20 yrs but I have God, family, and friends and am grateful. I always have hope to be better and will always try thats why I got on here. I pray for more knowledge and treatment for all affected by it as well as compassion
After living inside at my parents house, without leaving the door due to an anxiety disorder/agoraphobia, for about 5 years (between 2004 and 2009) I went to live on my own. Since then I've had my ups and downs. But I've been recovering and everything went uphill... Until...
In 2013 I've been the victim of two cases of assault/physical abuse and threat. This has affected my recovery so much that I have become an anxious person and I've been diagnosed with PTSD.
Right now I'm reintegrating in society (especially when it comes to work) and seeing my psychologist on a weekly basis and it should help me to deal with all the negative things that happen to me.
Leave a comment or write me if you've suffered the same and how you plan to overcome your ordeal. I'm very curious!
Greetings from The Netherlands,
We define agoraphobia as a form ofAnxiety disorder. There is some controversy regarding the word “Agoraphobia”. In the literal sense of the word, agoraphobia means a fear of “open spaces” This does not provide a complete and appropriate understanding of the term. Agoraphobia refers to a relentless anxiety condition arising out of illogical and disabling fears. Open spaces don’t necessarily cause fear in people affected with agoraphobia. But such people are somewhat haunted by fear getting panic attacks and the affected persons may suffer panic attacks either in public places like temples, crowded market areas or at home. So to be more precise, Agoraphobia is marked by extreme fear arising out of circumstances wherein an escape seems impossible or where there is no availability of any help in case of a panic attack.
A group of certain feared activities may result in Agoraphobia. An individual affected with agoraphobia may find it extremely difficult to drive a vehicle, or to travel in a vehicle; to stand on a bridge, in a queue, in a crowd and to be away from home. These persons are always troubled by an unknown fear of an impending danger and often get panic attacks.
Medical professionals ascribe many factors that cause agoraphobia. If a people are exposed to anxiety aggravating events that recur again, they may develop agoraphobia. Such events cause an intense fear often leaving an indelible impression on that individual’s mind. The main cause of agoraphobia is the fear of having panic attacks. These panic attacks make the affected individual to live in the constant fear of having another attack. The sufferers feel unnerved by the fear of what may happen to them if they get a panic attack in such public places like markets, hotels, temples or while traveling in a car, bus or any other vehicle.
Another important cause of agoraphobia is the obsessed memory of the situation and experience of the once suffered panic attack. Again this causes fear and anxiety finally leading to another attack. Naturally such persons confine themselves to home and avoid visiting public places.
Medical practitioners classify the symptoms of agoraphobia into three categories and they are; Physical, Psychological and behavioral symptoms.
Physical symptoms of agoraphobia are very rare because the affected people avoid situations that make them intensely anxious. However the agoraphobics may experience certain physical disorders. Such people often feel hot and sweaty followed by irregular heartbeats. Giddiness, shivering, diarrhea, nausea and chest pain are the common symptoms.
Psychological symptoms of agoraphobia are expressive of the patient’s fears. The affected people are in constant fear being put in an embarrassing condition. The terrifying panic attack may cause breathlessness. These people find themselves in situations from which there is no way out. Such people may lose their mental balance. They shiver and blush in front of people.
The people affected with agoraphobia exhibit symptoms related to behavior. They try to be in their comfort zone, confining themselves to home for long periods. They keep themselves away from doing any physical activity as they are afraid of any possible panic attack. Such persons withstand a situation only with great fear and anxiety. They also avoid driving vehicles.
Agoraphobia can be treated effectively with trusted medications and with definite kinds of psychotherapy
As I watch students pass by our busy street, I was curious of what do they have in mind that they can go wherever they want effortlessly? It is peace of mind. As they walk, they are not troubled by any danger/social/ anxiety/panic problems in specific along their way. They are not worrying a thing. So what’s causing me to worry when I go out? It’s because of the trauma, bad experiences that we encountered. We are sadden, ashamed, disappointed of how we reacted or felt in the past. Worrying about the past only makes you preoccupied about it in this present moment and keeps you from moving on.
It’s time to move on. It’s time to change. We deserve to smile and be happy. There is this fact that those stars at night the one star we are looking now actually don’t exist anymore. It has already exploded or collapsed only that its light has taken so long to get to us. It’s like our past experiences. We are worrying and watchful about it. We might not know but it may be already gone.
Go out and find out if it’s gone. Deciding to go is important. You can feel this inner will, self confidence, self esteem and strength shining through you if you have already decided. You know you can do this. I know it’s hard at first and those times you have panicked again. Difficult doesn't mean impossible. It simply means that you have to work hard. You might not or might get anxious and cold sweaty hands but it doesn’t mean that you’ll give up that easily. You know you can do this. We have to dedicate ourselves to go out at least everyday. And, sometimes we have to kick our butts out due to laziness or boredom.
Sometimes, we feel out of energy, not excited, unenthusiastic, bored, ain’t looking forward about going out due to stress, trauma, burnout or we simply don’t want to go. We have to have this extra effort to get us going. We have to motivate ourselves. One way of encouragement is immersing myself outside my house like moving the chair almost outside the doorway when watching tv, spending time to your garden or balcony for a break, etc. Anything under the sun will do. This will make you feel good and connected of the outside. It feels like going out is okey instead of feeling down for the rest of the day.
Every time we decide to go out and even at least try, I would be very proud of myself and you. Before going out, we have to put our mind in peace which means we have to settle it down. First, we have to acknowledge the way we feel about going especially negative feelings. In these negative feelings, there is a thought behind it. We have to stop and think why am I feeling this way. For example, I feel anxious and afraid because I think going out is scary, I will get dizzy, I will faint, I will not be able to breathe there. We are catastrophising things. These are unhealthy thoughts and bad habits. Next, change this negative thought to a positive thought and add up your supporting statements like “this is the day, I can do this, I did it there and I can do it here, etc”so that as a result you’ll be in a good mood or happy feelings. For example, going out is fine for me, I will not get dizzy +, I will not faint +, I can breathe + and then smile to the world it’s a beautiful day. Notice that if we keep thinking negative we are feeling bad. The way we think affects the way we feel. Think positive cause we deserve to be happy. Do this everytime you feel bad and you’ll see a difference. You’ll find yourself smiling pleasantly.http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/docs/Panic-03_Thinking-Feeling%20Connection.pdf Here is a site where you can practice more about thinking-feeling connection.
Be when you’re outside be happy. Don’t delay this gratification every step of the way. Set this mood in you. Whenever you feel anxious, immediately change that negative thought and be happy again. Say to yourself its feels great to be here. Give thanks for every opportunity that is given to you to cope.
Quantity and variety of exposure are also important. Quantity of exposure will give you your foundation. Everytime we succeed or achieved regardless with symptoms or not, this increases your strength, confidence and self esteem. You have now faith in yourself that you are capable of visiting those places. We might be scared in going there again but there’s this calmness in our hearts that we know we can do it again. Variety of exposures will give you answers to your doubts about the places you avoid. After I established my foundation and confident of what can I do, I came to a point that I pushed myself further more. I have not walked meters long at the specific street because I know in my last memory I got dizzy. I told myself I can do it. Holding my faith with me and my strong foundation I went through it. Whenever I get dizzy I stop for a while and continued to move. I told myself if I reach that lamp post I can go home but this faith keeps me to push through. Post by post I passed. I doubted myself but my mind is telling me that I know I can do this. I was really determined to do it. Then, I can’t believe that I made it. It’s like a dream came true and its very real. It’s like I indeed chose the correct answer and achieving that big red check mark.
I have read some success stories and some suggestions. One is meeting all of your friends in facebook one by one at a time. I saw her video and she was really happy being outside, meeting her friends and gaining new interesting experiences to them. Second is talking to a friend on phone that is doing an exposure also. Third, tell yourself that you can do this that it will be done very soon. There are many other conventional techniques, stories and suggestions out there.
Other things that I am trying to do, one is while strolling appreciates the surroundings. Use your five senses like how beautiful are the surroundings, the delightful smell of freshly bake bread, how sour the candy is, how rough is the cement, or the sound of people talking. Seek for these new experiences. Another is remembering today. We tend to react according to our past in situations instead of accepting it as a new memory, a new journey, or a new day. Try to remember today than to remember the past. I always appreciate the every new day.
After my exposures, I tend to de-stress myself. I think its important so that I can loosen all that tensed and stressed body. I listen to music. I sing. I play games. I buy my victory food. I can enjoy more and cherish my achievement in a relaxed body.
These are the things I want to share to you. I hope it will help you in one way or another or support you. Feel free to comment and also give me more suggestions like how to motivate me to go out everyday, etc. I know I got more to pass through. More power to all. Think positive. Be happy. God bless us all.
I don't have an actual diagnosis of agoraphobia. I am diagnosed with severe clinical depression and anxiety including OCD. I do have severe issues with getting out of my home. I am not really afraid of leaving really. I am not afraid of people seeing me or anything that some people I know are agoraphobic are. As far as I figure, my problems are more with the preparation to go and fears that I might forget something before leaving or coming home. I also become overwhelmed if planning to get some place gets complicated. I still love to get out! I love being at Mom's. I love to be at a restaurant for a meal. I even love to be at a store shopping! I don't mind so much going by bus... but I dread coming home by bus. I also dread arranging to get a ride home.
It isn't that I don't like being home either. I am quite comfortable here even though I have a clutter issue. It is "home" to me. It is the organizing to go that is the problem. It wasn't nearly so much an issue when I still had a car to drive places. My car was in my comfort zone. I could always get in my car and go home whenever I wanted and get something. I could always have a sports bag with me that had all I might want or need... but travelling by bus... or with a ride from someone else... it is not as easy.
Decades ago, a psychiatrist told me that a part of some of my panic with travelling somewhere had to do with my obsessing on the details of the route and on the perfect route. So I wonder if it is that same OCD issue. That I obsess on perfection or something similar, that I obsess on what might go wrong if I forget something when I go out.
Of course when it comes to going out, I have some health issues that come to to play. When I go out shopping, I likely will pay for it with a few days exhaustion. Health issues reduced my stamina which reduced what I could do. (I didn't reduce what I was doing which reduced my stamina... so many assume that. I went down fighting. I still fight it.) A person sometimes hesitates to do things that cause pain. I mostly hide, even from myself now, when I have panic/anxiety attacks. They do help exhaust a person though.
I take the bus to my Mom's for family occasions even though I could get rides there, but I do gratefully accept a ride home. I still don't know why even the thought of catching a bus home panics me? It always has since childhood. I can do it, but... when I was taking Zoloft years ago that tamed it a bit. And taking trazidone helps me not to be panicking as I think about it now. (Basically I don't get a flashback now.)
However I write too much... I still don't think I have traditional Agoraphobia. I am not afraid of being away from home. I am not afraid of being around others — though I do have problems panicking a bit in crowds when things get too tight. (Think standing room only on a bus.) I feel too many "stories" amongst all those around me. ...and I am still writing too much...
I guess it doesn't matter what it is called really. It keeps me from visiting friends. It keeps me from seeing my Mom. Worse it keeps me from getting groceries or seeing the Doctor. So even if it isn't agoraphobia, it is one thing, it is a Problem.
Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder in which an individual strives to avoid situations that are panic provoking. Those with agoraphobia often avoid situations where they feel trapped, often avoid leaving home, and typically avoid situations where they are concerned about feeling embarrassed, trapped, or helpless if they would begin to panic. These individuals often do not feel safe or calm in public settings. Individuals with agoraphobia can become so overwhelmed with fear of panicking in a public setting that they become trapped within their own home.
Overcoming agoraphobia will require facing one’s fears. This can be extremely difficult for an individual with agoraphobia to do. However, medications and psychotherapy treatments have been shown to offer some people relief from their symptoms. Agoraphobia can occur in conjunction with other anxiety and psychological disorders. Individuals with this condition should resist closing themselves into an isolated existence. Although isolating oneself will be the natural instinctual response in someone with agoraphobia it is important to work to maintain relationships and activities in the community.
The following are eight potentially effective ways that an individual can take to gain control over their agoraphobia.
Make an appointment with a doctor. An individual with agoraphobia should find a doctor who they can work closely with to monitor and treat their symptoms. It can be extremely helpful to have a family member, friend, or loved one join the doctor appointments so that there is an additional information source for the doctor to learn information from and who can provide support.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is strongly recommended for individuals with agoraphobia to pursue. This involves reteaching the individual how to gain control of their body and anxiety.
Go on practice outings with another trusted individual. An individual with agoraphobia should challenge themselves to go to anxiety producing locations with another trusted person. First start with easy outings and slowly work up to more challenging ones. If an individual will not even leave their home they should first try to go somewhere just outside of their home, even into the yard in front of their home. Through making small steps with safe trusted and supportive people by their side individuals with agoraphobia can slowly regain their life again.
Get connected to a therapist. Therapists that treat individuals with agoraphobia will often make special accommodations for individuals that suffer from this anxiety disorder. They will often begin to meet with individuals inside of their home or travel with them when they make public outings. A therapist can play a critical role in helping an individual with agoraphobia to face their fears and overcome them.
Change your diet. An individual with agoraphobia may benefit from making changes to their diet. Some herbal supplements have been shown to assist in relieving anxiety. It is always important to consult with a doctor before taking any sort of a supplement. It is also critically important to make sure that a supplement does not interfere with any medications that the individual is on.
Build new relationships. Although branching out and meeting new people is the last thing that an individual with agoraphobia will want to do it is also the most important thing for them to do. Through building relationships an individual can reduce their anxiety levels. Additionally, they also can build a valuable support network.
Avoid drugs and alcohol. These items can significantly increase the presence of agoraphobia symptoms. It is critically important for an individual with this disorder to avoid using drugs and alcohol.
Learn to relax. Learning and building relaxation skills is critically important for gaining control over one’s anxiety. Learning how to take deep relaxing breaths and knowing what things reduce one’s anxiety is critically important for gaining control over one’s anxiety.