18316122 tn?1464050665

Do I have Agoraphobia? What do you think?

I would assume it started when I was younger as simply becoming introverted/antisocial/self-isolating but has since sprouted its roots into something I can't quite identify. I know that I suffer from some form of depression and maybe anxiety but I'm not sure and would appreciate your opinion.

At first I was reluctant to leave the house. Simple as that. But then, at my stepmother's insistance, I attempted to become social and leave the house as ordinary children do. Soon I developed thoughts of constantly being watched and judged by others. For a few years I'd only left the house for the bare minimum and at friends promptings. I am not frightened that something outlandish would happen to me. Leaving my home simply made me quite anxious and nervous of others and their intentions. I avoid crowds whenever possible, I leave the house, but only when it is very important, like picking up my sister and now having a small time job that I find difficult to keep because I am reluctant to leave. I go to buy neccesities and if a close friend asks me to go somewhere with them but I've had panic attacks, 3 times though. The first when I was on a crowded bus for the first time, another when I'd been shopping with family and turned to find they'd disappeared, I began to run around attempting to find them, and once during school when I was feeling overwhelmed with the work, parental expectations, my own uselessness and the consistent thought of failure.

I've attempted to go out a few times to do things such as jog, go for a walk and become active in a Youth Group. The first two I'd find myself repeatedly going back into the house with racing thoughts of people staring, I'd  experience tremors, shortness of breath, and a sickening feeling in my stomach that made my knees tremble. I've stopped attending the youth group because I found it stressful despite the transportation to it simple. When I go out to malls or the like, I have a friend or two to accompany me because I just can't do it on my own. I am able to enjoy gardening on my balcony but not the front nor backyard. I spend a large majority of my time isolating myself in my room. I am unable to even bring myself to walk to the community college a ways up the street of my house for enrollment because the thought of the amount of people watching and judging or talking to me is terrifying. I never did projects in school as a child but in highschool I did a report at the front of the class and during my speech my mind became fuzzy, I'd started listing facts not on my report, my hands trembled, my knees felt as though they would give out and I experienced rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath. I found during another presentation, where I stood in the back and read while everyone's attention was on the projected report, that besides a slight shakyness and tension, I was fine. I'm worried that, if I am agrophobic, that it would develope into me not being able to leave the house for minimal tasks and would appreciate you're opinion on this. As a side note, I spent my younger years (6-months - 7 years) largely isolated from others outside of family members. I was not often permitted to leave the house, sat separately from children in school, and experienced a lot of negativity from the few(very few) children in my neighborhood, so much so, that I actively avoided socialising with them despite my overwhelming feelings of loneliness at the time and my fathers rare encouragement. ( He's a diagnosed paranoid pschizophrenic if that's of any help) when he remarried I found that I couldn't bear the amount of children and their hostility that I, then, lived with and after my first tentative years of attempting to befriend them, began to close myself off to them and then to others as well.
1 Responses
Sort by: Helpful Oldest Newest
18618508 tn?1466361085
Yes, you are agoraphobic. This has grown out of your core values: insecurity, social anxiety (fear of social attention) and fear of having a panic attack in a public place. You manage your agoraphobia by doing things that are essential (more anxiety if you didn't do them) or are accompanied (attention is shared).

Your avoidance is also part of your management, but this tends to reinforce the deeper negative core values. You struggle with anticipatory anxiety imagining that when you are outside, you will be overwhelmed with the public's attention and this will create a panic attack.

You will build confidence by learning to relax outside. Gradually desensitise your anxiety by spending longer periods outdoors. Only go back home when you feel relaxed, rather than rushing home to feel safe. Learn to be comfortable with "your own company", but this will take time, perhaps months to develop.

Breathing techniques can help your anxiety. First learn how to breathe to relax at home and then gradually use the techniques whilst you are out.  When you feel in control of your anxiety, your agoraphobia will diminish.

You are anxious that you are drawing attention and feel visible to the public. In reality, people aren't staring at you. Your anxiety may increase when you are in a situation in which you cannot leave easily (claustrophobia) e.g. when using public transport.

Create a number of external "safe places"; this will assist your mobility. Whilst home is "safe", your perspective needs to push the safe boundaries outwards.
Helpful - 0

You are reading content posted in the Agoraphobia Community

Top Anxiety Answerers
Avatar universal
Arlington, VA
675718 tn?1530033033
El Paso, TX
Learn About Top Answerers
Popular Resources
Find out what can trigger a panic attack – and what to do if you have one.
A guide to 10 common phobias.
Take control of tension today.
These simple pick-me-ups squash stress.
Don’t let the winter chill send your smile into deep hibernation. Try these 10 mood-boosting tips to get your happy back
Want to wake up rested and refreshed?