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WHAT IS AGORAPHOBIA AND COULD YOU BE AFFECTED BY IT?

Millions of people around the world have been affected by the Coronavirus crisis in more ways than we can identify just yet. In this global climate of fear, confusion and anxiety about the future, you or someone you know could just be affected by Agoraphobia.

According to Medical News Today, this term refers to “an anxiety disorder that manifests as a fear of situations where escape could be difficult, or in which help would not be available if something bad were to happen.” That means a person might be afraid of attending public events, using public transportation or even simply leaving home, for fear that they couldn’t access help if anything were to go wrong.

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Common symptoms of Agoraphobia are similar to that of a panic attack: Rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing (hyperventilation), chest pains, feeling hot and sweaty and feeling ill. According to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), people with this condition will “avoid situations that cause anxiety and may only leave the house with a friend or partner. They’ll order groceries online rather than going to the supermarket. This change in behaviour is known as avoidance.”

But where does it come from? Scientists believe Agoraphobia usually develops as a complication of panic disorder, an anxiety disorder involving panic attacks and moments of intense fear. It can even arise by associating panic attacks with the places or situations where they first occurred. “A minority of people with Agoraphobia have no history of panic attacks. In these cases, their fear may be related to issues like a fear of crime, terrorism, illness, or being in an accident,” according to the NHS.

The good news though is Agoraphobia can typically be treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. “Treatment is effective for most people with Agoraphobia, but it can be harder to treat if people do not get early help,” says Medical News Today. Medication, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and self-help techniques are just some of the ways this condition can be managed.

Remember: You should speak to your doctor first about any concerns before taking action.

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