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The Way Out of Agoraphobia


The Way Out of Agoraphobia


It is normal to feel worried or anxious sometimes. There are, however, indications when your fears are going overboard and no longer healthy.

Do you avoid places and feel extremely nervous whenever you leave your home? Do you severely dread large crowds? Do you often look for a way out to escape because you think you will be trapped in an unfamiliar area where help may not be available? Do you order groceries online instead of going to the supermarket because of fear? Does the very thought of leaving your home make you cringe with nervousness, and make you feel worried that you may lose your control when you go out?

If you answer yes to these questions, you may be suffering from a profoundly difficult anxiety disorder called agoraphobia. The DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for agoraphobia include the intense fear and anxiety of being in a place or situation where there is no feeling of safety and escape may be difficult, embarrassing or humiliating. Understandably, the fear caused by agoraphobia can lead to the avoidance of actual or anticipated dreadful situations, such as being in a crowd or being in open or enclosed areas. The uncontrollable urge to escape to a place of safety, usually the home, can cause you to isolate yourself and fear leaving your comfort zone.


Living with Agoraphobia

Available studies or statistics pertaining to agoraphobia reveal that the disorder affects approximately 1.8 million adults in the USA alone. The condition can upset anyone at different levels of severity and duration. The symptoms vary from person to person, but most sufferers avoid places or situations that evoke panic, making them completely housebound.

If you are part of this statistic, you are probably suffering from an irrational fear of going outside, keeping you from living a productive life. At times when it is necessary to leave home, like when you are in need of medical care, you can get farther from your place of safety only when accompanied by someone you trust. Taking this into account, it is not surprising if you become totally dependent on your frequent companion, making it impossible for you to go out anywhere without them.

Unfortunately, this dependent setup only reinforces fears and makes recovery more difficult. Like other phobias, the best way to overcome agoraphobia is to face up your fears slowly. With agoraphobia, however, this is not an easy thing to do due to the need to go all over those feelings again after trying to avoid them for so long.

Agoraphobia can seriously impair your daily function. Departure from your familiar place can be debilitating, so you may be confined to your home for years. This can disable you to work and make you heavily rely on family and friends for help to do even simple things like shopping. In time, it can become stressful and put a strain on the individuals whose lives have revolved around assisting you with your needs.


Identifying the Cause

Experts are not sure about the cause of agoraphobia, but a number of factors have been identified as possible link to the development of the condition. One of them could be the influence of role models, specifically in the family, who may pass on traits or demonstrate excessive avoidance behaviors that can be emulated by an offspring.

Agoraphobia is also believed to be comorbid with other disorders and other anxiety disorders, such as major depression, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The condition is found to be prevalent in a very large number of agoraphobics who have experienced separation from their mother or father during childhood.

It may also develop as a result of a traumatic event, substance abuse or stressful situations. A frightening experience, such as being trapped in a fire or an elevator, involvement in a vehicle accident, break-in, or physical attack can develop the phobic symptoms of agoraphobia.

Other researches link agoraphobia with a person’s ability to balance their body. Agoraphobics have difficulty in maintaining their balance, thus they rely more on visual and tactile senses. Severe panic attack occurs when these senses’ cues become confused.


The Signs and Symptoms of Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia can afflict anyone at any age. It typically begins between the ages of 20 and 30, which is indeed a young age to suffer from a mood disorder. Both men and women can develop agoraphobia, although statistics show that the condition is twice as prevalent among women.

The onset of agoraphobia can either be sudden or gradual, over a period of weeks, months, or even years. It can manifest intermittently for a considerable length of time before becoming a full-blown disorder. The severity of the symptoms can vary enormously, with many sufferers keeping their condition or just about living with their fears for many years. Regardless of age and gender, knowing whether or not you have agoraphobia is an important step toward finding the way out of it. This makes it crucial to recognize the signs and symptoms to get the necessary treatment and avoid living a life in fear.

It is important to mention that not all agoraphobics frequently panic. A primary telltale symptom is the intense fear of being in a crowded, wide-open area, such as malls, airports, or sports arena. Other symptoms that may indicate the presence of agoraphobia include

  • Hyperventilation
  • Agitation
  • Helplessness
  • Fear of humiliation
  • Loss of control
  • Feeling “unreal” or “not being there”
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Trembling and/or shaking
  • Fear of dying

A lot of these symptoms are common with other medical conditions, such as heart disease, respiratory problem, and stomach issues. It may be necessary to make several trips to your health care provider before agoraphobia can be accurately diagnosed as the real problem. This is unfortunate because the condition is one of the most highly treatable of all the anxiety orders.


Finding the Way Out of Agoraphobia

 Agoraphobia can negatively impact the quality of your life. It can severely restrict you from performing a multitude of activities that normally take place outside the home. It can limit your ability to work, study, socialize, exercise, and other important daily functioning, such as shopping or watching your favorite movie. Being deprived of these activities can lead to loneliness, isolation and boredom, increasing the risk of depression, low self-esteem, dependence on others, substance abuse, and self-harm.

The good news is that agoraphobia is a very treatable problem. While it is extremely difficult to manage agoraphobia on your own, the condition responds well to professional counseling. In fact, early treatment can often prevent agoraphobia.

If you suspect agoraphobia is significantly affecting your ability to enjoy life, consider seeing one of the independently contracted counselors with Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, NC, on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks. You will be matched with the right fit counselor and begin treatment in a safe and comfortable environment to resolve your anxieties and make you start feeling better out into the world. Counseling, as the right intervention, is an evidence-based treatment with benefits for an anxiety disorder such as agoraphobia.

Do not let your world become smaller. Call to set up an appointment with Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, NC, on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks to win over your fears. We are here to help you.

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, NC

Counties: Harnett County

Areas: Cameron NC, Linden Oaks NC, Sprout Springs NC, Anderson Creek NC, Olivia NC, Pineview NC, Johnsonville NC, Spring Lake NC

Zip Codes: 28326, 28327, 27332, 28394

Rose Thomas, MA, LPC, LCAS, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 5+) Children, Teens, Individuals, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADHD, Relationship Issues, Marriage Counseling, Parenting, PTSD/Trauma Recovery, Acute Stress Disorder, Adult Sexual Abuse Survivors, Adjustment Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Bipolar and Related Disorders, Self-injurious/Self-Harm, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Separation Anxiety, Disruptive Disorders, Conduct Disorder, Marital Conflict and Discord, LGBT, Substance Use Disorders
 Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Tricare Prime, Tricare Select, Extra, Retired, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express


Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Individuals, families, PTSD, Trauma, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Adjustment Disorder, ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, communication skills, and Parenting Skills, Behavior Management, Life transitions, Family Conflict, Difficulty Coping, Relationship Problems, Depression, Anxiety

InsuranceBCBSTricare, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted and Apple Pay

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Shirlisa Daniels, MS, LPC, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Teens, Adults and Individuals, Families, Anxiety Disorders, Depression, Panic Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, ODD, PTSD, Relationship Issues, Conflict Resolution and Life Transitions
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

Holly Ring, LMFT

Specializes in: (Ages 7+) Adolescents, College Students, Individuals, Couples, and Families, Anxiety, Depression, Trauma (child and adult, TFCBT certified), Relationship Issues, Coping Skills, Adjustment Disorders, Life Transitions, Suicidal Ideation, Self-esteem, OCD, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting Skills, LGBTQ
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

How Do I Set Up my FIRST Appointment?

  • Call: (910) 716-8006 (Fastest way to schedule)
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Carolina Counseling Services - Cameron, NC
35 Plantation Drive, Suite 100B and 100C
Cameron, NC 28326

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PO BOX 9909
Fayetteville, NC 28311

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