Agoraphobia and social phobia

Agoraphobia – fear of open spaces

Agoraphobia is a little more complicated than that – it is the fear of being in any situation where something might go wrong, without the ability to escape or get help. I was contacted by a woman whose condition had been deteriorating for more than seven years. Initially, it started with a little anxiety when people visited the house, and turned into a situation where she could not enter a store, bank or any public place without obvious symptoms of panic attack. Her heart was pounding and she felt nauseous and drenched in sweat, almost fainting at the thought of having to go out and buy a loaf of bread. She also became more and more upset about people coming to her house. Whether her symptoms were symptoms of social phobia or agoraphobia has never been medically diagnosed. What was worse for her was that the youngest of her children began to copy her behavior in social situations, and this was the last impetus to action. The doctor prescribed medication for her, but she did not find that it helped to change anything in these difficult situations, but only dulled the symptoms of the panic attack. No one really knows what causes agoraphobia, although there may be some parental influences that affect whether a person can develop any of these conditions, such as overprotection or over-emphasizing the danger of strangers.

Social phobia is more than just shyness

Social phobia is more than just shyness, it is absolute fear in certain situations, including meeting strangers, shopping, answering a phone call, or starting a conversation. We can make the mistake of seeing someone as shy when, in fact, they are struggling to contain their panic attack symptoms. Unfortunately, as with my client, these symptoms worsen over time and there are often more situations in which they develop. Guilt exacerbates the situation, the feeling of guilt that loved ones also have to go through this, in this case, of course – the woman was upset that her children had to go to shops for her, that neither she nor her children could have family and friends nor can she go to their aid or even attend family events. It was a vicious circle of anguish in many ways. Without a doubt, it is difficult for anyone who has not been in this situation to even come close to understanding how much it affects the lives and relationships of people.

Treatment of agoraphobia

Traditional treatments for agoraphobia and social phobia are usually done in two ways – with medication and CBT. Antidepressants are often prescribed because there may be a correlation between depression and phobias, or mild tranquilizers to dull the symptoms of an anxiety attack. CBT is usually offered and very effective, usually up to fourteen sessions, helps to identify unrealistic or unhelpful beliefs and teaches skills to respond more positively in situations that cause difficulties. My client had two sessions: the first with a complete history, and then a session of hypnotic therapy. After the session, I put her in the car and went to our local supermarket, followed by her husband, who was sitting in the car and waiting outside. We went straight to the supermarket and danced, yes, danced in the aisles, knocking out a few displays and carts, I might add as none of us were particularly adept at tango. Second session, two months later, to make sure everything is in order and to make sure that the therapy is really deeply rooted in her subconscious. Four years later, and although I don’t think she has been dancing by the aisles lately, she attended her cousin’s wedding, goes to church every week, and no longer sends her children for a loaf.

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