What is Agoraphobia?
The primary fear of someone suffering with Agoraphobia, is experiencing a panic
attack in a crowded public place surrounded by unfamiliar faces and no
escape routes or help in sight.
A panic attack can be a terrifying experience where the heart races and it may be
difficult to maintain normal breathing patterns. The sudden feeling of dizziness
can often make a person feel like they are about to pass out or that they are having
a heart attack.
Agoraphobia is commonly misunderstood as a fear of open or public
spaces. In reality, it is not actually these spaces that are feared, but rather the
threat of having a panic attack or panic symptoms in one of these settings.
An individual with Agoraphobia experiences extreme anxiety about places or
certain situations where escape may be difficult or embarrassing, or
where help may not be readily available should a panic attack occur.
This extreme anxiety often results in an intense fear of leaving one’s comfort zone
and often results in isolation and an extremely negative effect on functioning and
Diagnosing Agoraphobia
Agoraphobia is usually diagnosed by a psychologist or mental health practitioner.
The psychologist will require a detailed account of the history of Agoraphobia
symptoms you have experienced, their severity and the various situations that
trigger them.
In addition, they will check that you do not have any other disorders or problems
such as an anxiety disorder, depression or substance abuse. Your mental health
practitioner should also ensure that a physical illness is not the root cause
of your anxiety.
What are the Symptoms of Agoraphobia?
People with Agoraphobia develop “safe places” (usually their own home), but it
may also include any other frequented areas where they feel psychologically safe
and secure. In addition, they often develop “safe people” with whom they feel
totally comfortable and can depend on should something happen.
When people suffering from this condition leave these people or places of safety,
they often experience Agoraphobia symptoms which include feelings of
extreme anxiety or a panic attack. This results in obsessive avoidance behavior
(they may only want to shop at a particular shopping mall and will drive to the next
suburb to do so) and in extreme cases Agoraphobics live the life of a recluse,
seldom stepping out their front door.
Who Suffers from Agoraphobia? Is there a Cure?
Some Agoraphobia facts are that the condition most likely develops in late
adolescence or early adulthood and tends to affect more women than men. It is a
very limiting and isolating disorder that can begin to take control – adversely
affecting daily function. However, Agoraphobia is treatable and it is never too late
to reclaim a panic-free life!
What Causes Agoraphobia?
There are certain Agoraphobia facts you should know. Agoraphobia is caused by
the same multiple factors that are associated with other phobias and panic attacks.
In most cases it develops as a reaction to a past bad experience (usually an
unexpected panic attack) where the individual felt unsafe and exposed to danger,
or criticism in an unfamiliar or open setting.
The individual then becomes pre-occupied about the possibility of having
another anxiety reaction and this anxiety alone can then cause another panic
attack, thus perpetuating the cycle.
Help for Agoraphobia
A number of treatment options are available to help overcome Agoraphobia. While
many people with this disorder are prescribed scheduled drugs to control the
anxiety associated with Agoraphobia, they often experience unwanted side effects,
and may become dependant on the medication.
While prescription drugs may be beneficial, it is important to avoid masking
Agoraphobia symptoms without actually solving the underlying problems.
Research has shown that phobias respond best to a combination of treatment
A holistic approach would include appropriate therapeutic treatment by a
registered psychologist, as well as the use of natural remedies, relaxation
techniques or other treatment methods such as hypnotherapy. A treatment plan
that is custom made for the individual provides the best approach.
The following are some of the most commonly recommended treatment
approaches for Agoraphobia. Explore all treatment options to find the approach
that best suits you.
Treatment Options for Agoraphobia
Drug Treatment
While physicians are often quick to prescribed scheduled drugs to control the
anxiety associated with Agoraphobia, they often have unwanted side affects,
and some may even be addictive. While prescription drugs may be beneficial at
temporarily masking symptoms, they do not address the underlying problem and
may bring with them new problems such as dependency.
Natural Herbal and Homeopathic Remedies
Agoraphobia is essentially an Anxiety Disorder that involves the flood of anxiety
inducing-chemicals through your body (e.g. adrenaline). To help manage the
underlying anxiety associated with this condition, there are a number of natural
products available. The calmative effects of certain herbs in Agoraphobia
treatments such as Passiflora incarnata, Scutellaria laterifolia (Scullcap) and
Valerian, can help restore tranquility to your life and help restore your body’s own
natural chemical balance.
These remedies also serve to take ‘the edge off’ the discomfort and anxiety
associated with facing your fears. Hypericum perforatum (St John’s Wort), taken
regularly, can also have a longer term balancing and calming effect – helping to
provide a platform of confidence and well being and thereby reducing overall
anxiety levels.
Unlike allopathic medication, natural remedies offer great results without
unwanted side-effects or risks of addiction. As different products on the market
can vary in strength and therapeutic dosage, make sure that you source yours from
a reputable manufacturer who also offers support and guidance in how to use the
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Agoraphobia treatments sometimes includeCognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT
makes use of various techniques which may help the individual to better
understand and manage symptoms as well as the maladaptive thoughts and
behaviors that underlie them. Desensitization or exposure therapy is the most
common method of treating Agoraphobia.
This therapy includes gradual exposure to the feared situation at a gentle pace. The
therapeutic process starts with small manageable goals and progresses in
manageable steps. A person with Agoraphobia might begin with stepping outside
the front door, and progress to a walk around the block.
Relaxation Techniques
Meditation, deep breathing and muscle relaxation techniques are generally a part
of Agoraphobia treatments in order to reduce over-all anxiety. These methods
are also great for clearing your mind of unwanted negative thoughts. There are
CD’s available that are specifically composed for this purpose.
Other Disorders Related to Agoraphobia
Other Agoraphobia facts you should be aware of are that the condition is related
to other disorders such as depression, substance abuse, other phobias and anxietydisorders (particularly Panic Disorder).While the symptoms of Agoraphobia may
feel physical, they always begin in the mind. It is therefore recommended that a
professional evaluation be sought, so that you can receive a proper diagnosis and
treatment for any other co-existing problems.
Tips for coping with Agoraphobia
● One step at a time! Set small attainable goals and get comfortable with
them before moving on to the next step.
● Familiarize yourself with unknown situations before diving into
them. For example, if you know you have a function to attend, go and look
around the venue beforehand so that it is not altogether unknown.
● Some people find running a particularly useful way of facing their
Agoraphobia - as it’s almost impossible to have a panic attack while running.
Disguised as a jogger, nobody will notice your anxious breathlessness as
unusual. While it may literally seem that you are running away from your
fears, you will be doing the exact opposite! An added bonus is that while you
jog your body will release happiness producing hormones at the same time,
leaving you with a sense of accomplishment and relaxation.
● Keep a journal, talk to a “safe person”, or find another positive means
for expressing your emotions. As with many psychological conditions,
Agoraphobia is often entangled in deep emotions, insecurities and thoughts
that need to be explored and dealt with.
● Keep reminding yourself of the reality of your situation. While this
may be easier said than done, try to focus on the realistic outcomes of your
anxiety situation. When catastrophic thoughts are running through your
mind try yelling a focus-phrase (out loud or in your head) such as “STOP IT”
or “ENOUGH NOW!” that will help to bring you back into the present. Your
panic will soon pass and even if you have to push past a few people to get
outside, they probably won’t notice. Remember that panic is not physically
● Empower yourself in other areas in your life. Take up a hobby,
sporting activity, or interesting course. The confidence you gain in these
areas will spill over into other aspects of you life.
● Become an expert! Learn all there is to know about Agoraphobia. There
are multiple self-help books, internet resources and support groups that will
help you understand your condition more fully and provide helpful
● Live a healthy life-style! Eating a well balanced diet, getting enough
sleep and relaxation time and regular exercise can help reduce anxiety and
The Natural Approach
While Western medicine has become the norm in many cultures, it is not the only
treatment option. Conventional western medicine, often called allopathic
medicine, is the system of medicine taught at most medical schools and most
pharmaceutical and synthetic medicines are manufactured and marketed
according to the principles of allopathic medicine. Allopathic medicine is also
sometimes called orthodox medicine.
Because most of us in the Western world have grown up in a society in which
allopathic medicine is the prevailing norm, we forget that, only a few decades ago,
homeopathic, herbal and other natural medicines were commonly available – andfreely used even by conventional doctors. While there are often heated debates
about which system of medicine is ‘better’ than the other, many responsible
doctors (whether they are allopathic or not) recognize that both have a role to play
in the treatment program.
Natural medicine has often been frowned on by conventional doctors, especially by
those who did not have sufficient knowledge of these medicines. However, it is
encouraging to note that some medical schools are now beginning to re-introduce
it into their course work, thereby providing doctors with a wider range of
treatment options from which to choose. In many countries, especially in Europe,
India and China, natural and homeopathic medicines are commonly prescribed by
conventional doctors and represent a significant part of the total annual drug sales.
Naturopathy is a branch of medicine (just as allopathy is a branch of medicine)
which operates according to the underlying philosophy that the body has an innate
capacity to heal itself. While natural medicines are often called ‘alternative’ or
‘complimentary’ medicines, they are, in fact, a unique and independent form of
medicine in their own right, well able to treat a variety of conditions. Perhaps the
term ‘holistic’ medicine is more apt, given the broad range of treatment options
and approaches which are to be found within the practice of natural medicine,
which encompasses many different disciplines, including herbalism, homeopathy,
iridology, osteopathy, chiropractic, therapeutic massage techniques,
aromatherapy, acupuncture and many, many more.
Most naturopaths will use a variety of treatment modalities in order to treat their
patients in a holistic way to support health, relieve symptoms and prevent future
disease. In fact, even the World Health Organization defines health as being "...
more than simply the absence of illness. It is the active state of physical, emotional,
mental and social well-being." This is a wonderfully clear description of holistic or
natural medicine, which strives to support health (thereby relieving or preventing
symptoms), rather than simply eliminating disease.
Although allopathic medicine certainly has a role to play and has made a
tremendous contribution to medical science during the past century, there is a
growing perception that it is not the only answer and that, in many cases, holistic
medicine can accomplish just as much, if not more – without the risk of side
effects, addiction and sacrifice to health so commonly associated with
pharmaceutical drugs. Contrary to common perception, and provided that they are
manufactured in the correct way, natural medicines can work quickly and safely to
promote healing.
In many cases, they can succeed where pharmaceutical drugs have failed. Despite
frequent reports that they are ‘unproven’ and ‘untested’, the opposite is true.
Natural medicines have a long history of usage and there is a wealth of empirical
evidence to support their effectiveness and safety. In addition, active clinical
research is carried out by many academic hospitals and universities to support the
extensive traditional and empirical evidence behind natural medicines.
It is also important to know that, like any medicine, herbal and homeopathic
medicines must be manufactured in the correct way, following acceptable
procedures and manufacturing methods to ensure maximum effectiveness and
safety. Due to the recent rise in popularity of natural remedies, many companies
have sprung up to take advantage of the market. Unfortunately not all of them are
equipped to manufacture to the correct standards, often resulting in a flood of
inferior (and sometimes even unsafe) remedies onto the market – and giving natural remedies a bad name.
Even some pharmaceutical companies have rushed to claim their market share by
producing so-called ‘standardized’ extracts of herbs and offering these as superior
to the tried and tested methods of naturopathic manufacturing. Nothing could be
further from the truth. While ‘standardized’ extracts may offer benefit of easy
consistency of dosage (and cheaper more efficient production lines), they have
grave disadvantages. These include an increase in side effects as the medicines
produced in this manner lose the natural protective properties of the herbs. In
some cases, these side effects have proved fatal – as was seen in the liver toxicity
associated with standardized extracts of kava kava, a herb previously safely used
for generations without any known side effects.
Most naturopaths recommend what is called the Full Spectrum Method of
extraction – which retains the benefits of ALL the active ingredients within the
herb as opposed to isolating only one – thereby providing a more complete
treatment as well as superior protection against side effects.
Whatever your choice, always choose wisely. Research what is best for you. If you
have a chronic or life threatening condition, don’t make changes without first
discussing them with your doctor in order that your condition may be monitored.
Well informed and supportive practitioners will support patients who want to take
responsibility for their own health.
Related Natural Remedies:
MindSoothe: Promote balanced mood and feelings of wellbeing.
MindSoothe is a 100% safe, non-addictive, natural herbal remedy that has been
especially formulated by a Clinical Psychologist for adults and teens, and comes in
a compact capsule form, making it easy to take.
MindSoothe can be used to safely maintain emotional health, balanced mood and
systemic harmony in the brain and nervous system, without harmful side effects.
This remedy contains a selection of herbs known for their calming and supportive
function in maintaining brain and nervous system health, emotional balance and
overall wellbeing.
Learn more about MindSoothe
PureCalm: Aids nervous system in stress resistance for balanced moods and
feelings of well being.
PureCalm is a 100% safe, non-addictive herbal remedy that has been specially
formulated by a Clinical Psychologist for adults and children.
PureCalm can been used to safely maintain harmony, health and systemic balance
in the brain and nervous system, without harmful side effects and without
sedatives. This remedy contains a selection of herbs known for their supportive
role in maintaining brain function.
PureCalm can especially benefit those individuals needing support overcoming worry, managing stress and to promote inner calm related to certain situations.
Natural stress relief products such as PureCalm can be used consistently, without
side effects or compromising health.

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