Over 3 million Americans have agoraphobia, making it one of the most common phobias in the country.
Agoraphobia causes intense fear of specific situations, forcing you to avoid places and activities you might otherwise enjoy. It’s a type of anxiety disorder that has the power to affect your relationships with other people and disrupt your life — and there are a lot of misconceptions about it.
Our team at Boston Neurobehavioral Associates can help. We offer telehealth counseling for agoraphobia, and in this post, we’re dispelling some of the most common myths about the condition.
Popular culture paints people suffering from agoraphobia as shut-ins sitting in their houses in the dark. And most of the time, they are either unable and unwilling to go outside. But for most people with the condition, agoraphobia looks different.
It’s true that some people with agoraphobia do have a fear of going outside, but symptoms vary widely between individuals. Many people can leave their homes, go outside, and participate in daily life.
A few of the most common triggers of agoraphobia are:
If you have agoraphobia, you may experience anxiety and other symptoms in these situations. Symptoms often arise from the fear of not being able to escape or find help if you need it.
Since agoraphobia can be triggered by crowded spaces, it’s often confused with introversion. Introversion is a personality trait that makes people feel more comfortable focusing on the inner life of their own mind rather than what’s going on around them. However, agoraphobia and introversion aren’t the same thing at all.
Introversion is a personality trait, not a health condition. On the other hand, agoraphobia is a type of anxiety that’s a diagnosable mental health condition.
Agoraphobia is more common among introverts, but that doesn’t mean people with agoraphobia are antisocial by choice. Agoraphobia can also affect people who are extroverted and outgoing, and it may cause even more emotional stress in these cases.
As with many other mental health conditions, a lack of understanding leads many people to assume that symptoms of agoraphobia aren’t real. It might seem like someone suffering from agoraphobia is faking or exaggerating their symptoms, or that they’re being lazy or trying to get out of obligations. This simply isn’t true.
The physical and emotional symptoms of agoraphobia are very real. For those who have it, agoraphobia isn’t an excuse or a character flaw.
Fortunately, agoraphobia and other anxiety conditions are treatable. Our team specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for agoraphobia and related symptoms. Agoraphobia is different from panic attacks, but many people with agoraphobia experience panic attacks in triggering situations.
Depending on your needs, we help you learn how to identify and address your fears. Sometimes, we recommend medication alongside therapy to help minimize symptoms in everyday life.
Is agoraphobia a reality in your life? Don’t wait to ask for help. Contact Boston Neurobehavioral Associates online or call our office in either Massachusetts or Rhode Island to schedule your first telehealth appointment today.