It is an extreme fear of many different things and not knowing why. Mine started in a dept. store- cold sweat, arms tingling, couldn't breath, weak and lightheaded. Thought I was coming down with something so went home laid down and started getting worse. My heart was pounding and I was terrified I was having a heart attack. Called my Dr. and he knew right away-was having a panic attack. That was the beginning of therapy and tranquilizers. Everytime I tried to go somewhere and would have an attack I just avoided that place. Eventually I was avoiding driving, grocery stores, shopping centers, restaurants movies and large crowds etc. After several years of therapy where all we talked about was my childhood, I finally found one who said to me--Doesn't matter what happened or did not happen to you as a child,you have panic attacks and we're going to deal with that. She knew my first attack was in a shopping center, so each week, along with her and someone else, we went to a shopping center. The first few times, she drove and we went in for a few minutes then back to her office. The next few times we went in and walked around with her for a while. After that she sat in the center while we both walked around for a while-that led to each of us driving our own cars and walking the entire center by ourselves. We always knew where the therapist would be in case we felt we needed her. It's called de-sensitizing yourself to your surroundings. I am now alive today because of that therapist. Once in a great while I still feel the need to "get out" but tell myself it will pass. I also recite a verse that says "Fear Not, for I am with you do not be dismayed. I will help you, I will comfort you and I will upohold you with my victorius right hand" and " God has not given me this spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind". I spent many, many years trying to go places just to feel like I'd go crazy if I didn't get right back out of there and get home where I felt safe. I eventually learned it wasn't the theatre, restaurant, shopping center, grocery store, red lights etc. that was causing my attacks-they were just places where I would have an attack so I told myself as long as I avoided those places I'd be fine---WRONG-They're awful to live through but they will not kill you and you will not end up in an institution where all of us that have had them, feel like we're going. See a therapist who's specialty is anxiety. I learned that mine was inhereted from my mother. It can be passed on from mother to daughter as well as self taught by behaviors when you are young. I've lived itand hope this helps someone.
I've developed this severely in the last few years. Mine is due to chronic recurring Epstein Barr and gets turned on or off like a light switch. The switch is most always on anymore since the EBV has become chronic. I was a fearless professional for 25 years and now am too sick and exhausted to work, plus often won't go to stores etc even if physically able. I'm also afraid to open my mail. I just don't get that one. Maybe because of the confusion factor. Anxiety meds and therapy don't help because it's physical in the brain. Treating bacterial infections aggressively does help. Lorazepam helps a little if I need to attend something re my daughters. I take Cymbalta for nerve pain and that hasn't helped-most likely because it's inflammation from infection in that certain area of the brain. I feel for everyone who suffers from agoraphobia. It's an awful way to be and very different than being a homebody by choice. Worse yet is that it's almost impossible for others to understand what's going on, so you get the judgement or hurt feelings. I've let go of such toxic people in my life and carefully explain things to the few and dear left.
I've been trying to figure out exactly what I have. I don't think I've ever had a panic attack, from what I'm reading I think I'd know. I don't like to speak in front of crowds, but I did it anyway at my 10 year high school reunion without sweating or panicking. I didn't enjoy it, but I felt good afterward. My thing is I love to be at home, when I go out to dinner, or to a family function I want it over fast, so I can get home. I've been that way for many years, I'd have an hour for lunch and drive home which took 20 minutes each way and I'd have about 15 minutes at home. But it was worth it for some reason. Now I stay at home a lot, my husband does the grocery shopping if I don't do it online. No I don't always answer the phone even if it's a friend and I make excuses or say, next time when they want me to go out. One thing maybe different than most though is, I have dentures now which I hate. It's a huge hassle to wear them, but when I do go out, I just go to the local liquor store for cigarettes and feel they don't care if I have my teeth in or not, I've known them for over 20 years. I think that might have a lot to do with it, being uncomfortable with my teeth. Or maybe it's just an excuse to not leave my house.
that was very helpful tinker thank you
Maybe the real question is....what symptoms does one exhibit if diagnosed with agoraphobia? As DJ as said the term is from the Greek, I believe, meaning 'fear of the marketplace'. I am diagnosed with it....and that is one aspect of disorder. Took time for me to get comfortable shopping for groceries.
Generally other words are used these days by psychiatrists....but severe untreated agoraphobia has the power to keep one imprisoned in his/her home.
The onset can be gradual..or sudden. And symptoms may vary. For me the toughest thing was to drive my car very far from home: feeling out of it or trapped on a crowded highway...always hard for me.
Most people with disorder have seen a doctor, many take medication, and if lucky, with support lead normal lives. In may case I worked as a librarian until I was 70....so there is hope.
Let us know more...we will help if we can...therapy is often the first step.
well literally it means fear of the marketplace. It can mean you fear large groups and situational or can mean you don't leave your home. It is cruel but can learned to be managed. I do a little better every day. There are great anxiety books available and congnitive therapy is very helpful as well