Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by fear and avoidance of certain situations or places, particularly those where you feel you’re unable to escape or find help if you need it.
About 1 in 100 American adults experience agoraphobia at some point in their lives. It can make it incredibly difficult to leave the house or participate in normal activities, leading to social isolation and decreased quality of life.
Fortunately, agoraphobia is treatable. Our team at Boston Neurobehavioral Associates offers telehealth services to help you cope and manage your symptoms. So if you’re dealing with agoraphobia, start here.
Seek professional help
The first step in coping with agoraphobia is seeking professional help. Agoraphobia can feel overwhelming, and you don’t have to navigate it alone.
Our mental health professionals can help you identify the specific triggers for your anxiety and work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan. This typically includes cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help you learn coping skills and change negative thought patterns.
Challenge negative thoughts
Negative thoughts and beliefs can fuel anxiety and make your agoraphobia worse. As you work through therapy, it’s important to start identifying and challenging these thoughts.
Then, you can gradually replace them with more positive, realistic ones. For example, instead of thinking, "I will never be able to leave the house," you can change your approach and start thinking, "I am taking small steps to overcome my fears."
Set realistic goals
Setting small, realistic goals for yourself can be very helpful as you work on coping with agoraphobia. Our team can help you set these goals to build up your confidence and reduce your anxiety levels. For example, you might start taking short walks around your neighborhood and increase the distance and duration of your walks over time.
Practice exposure therapy
Exposure therapy is a form of CBT that involves gradually exposing yourself to the situations or places that trigger your anxiety. Your therapist guides you during the process and helps you set goals for the experience. In many cases, exposure therapy can help you learn to cope with your fears and reduce avoidance behaviors.
Create a support system
Having a strong support system can also help you cope with agoraphobia. Your support system can include family members, friends, or a support group for people with anxiety disorders. Talking to others who understand what you’re going through can help you feel less alone and encourage you to keep making progress in therapy.
Develop coping strategies
One of the main goals of therapy for agoraphobia is to help you develop coping strategies for when you’re faced with a triggering situation. Helpful strategies can include deep breathing, positive self-talk, or visualization techniques. Having a plan in place may help you feel more in control and reduce feelings of anxiety, wherever you are.
Take care of yourself
Last but not least, remember to take care of yourself. Recovery from agoraphobia takes time and patience. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that it’s okay to have setbacks.
Make sure to eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and participate in physical activity. Try practicing self-care activities, like taking a bath or reading a book, to help reduce stress. Celebrate your progress and remind yourself that recovery is possible.
Stop suffering the symptoms of agoraphobia alone. Reach out to our team at Boston Neurobehavioral Associates to schedule a telehealth appointment and get the tools you need to start coping. Call, request an appointment online, or send us a message today.