The following is a good definition of AGORAPHOBIA and many of the symptoms that Agoraphobics experience. This definition was taken from a pamphlet distributed by The Freedom From Fear Foundation.
What is AGORAPHOBIA ?
The word AGORAPHOBIA is derived from two Greek words: AGORA, meaning a popular political assembly, which at one time took place in the market place; and PHOBIA, meaning a fear or dread. Put together, the two words can be interpreted literally as a fear of the market place. In fact, Agoraphobia is a condition in which sufferers experience a morbid fear of anything and everything outside of their own homes.
A panic attack ?
Yes. The panic attack is the most frightening experience that an Agoraphobic can undergo. During such an attack, the anxiety escalates to the point that the sufferer is actually incapacitated by it. It is a moment of sheer terror during which he is sure that he is going to die, go insane or at least become unconscious. He may experience any of the following symptoms:
- sweaty hands - palpitating heart - dizziness - tightness in chest - hot flushes - blurred vision - nausea - diarrhoea - free floating sensation
Not all of these symptoms may be present in every panic attack and others not listed here may be present, but one ingredient is present in every attack - a feeling of sheer terror.
Does every Agoraphobic suffer panic attacks ?
Not necessarily. In some cases the anxiety may be quite mild, but once a panic attack has been experienced the Agoraphobic has a new fear - that of another attack. This creates still further fear of the outside and the Agoraphobic becomes more and more hestitant about leaving the house.
Are there other symptoms ?
Yes. In addition to the physical symptoms described, a number of emotional symptoms may develop. These include:
- feelings of inadequacy - guilt - depression - irrational fears which cannot be overcome - lack of confidence in oneself - uneasiness in relation to oneself and to others
What does this do to an Agoraphobic ?
Because of the anxiety experienced whenever the Agoraphobic goes outside, he/she tends to avoid situations requiring him/her to do so. The Agoraphobic generally withdraws into thier home or other places of security, leaving it only for the most essential of reasons, and only then with great difficulty. In many cases, especially when panic attacks have been experienced, the Agoraphobic becomes completely housebound, relying on others for his/her very existance. Often the mere thought of going outdside is enough to trigger the anxiety.
This can often lead to other complicated consequences. Frequently the sufferer becomes convinced that he/she is going insane. If leaving the home is unavoidable on a regular basis, as when a person has to work for a living, a sufferer may take to alcohol ot other drugs for help, creating additional problems. Agoraphobia places a severe strain on a marriage, particularily where the partner is unable to understand the feelings of the sufferer. Other consequences can be:
- loss of friends - hostility towards those one is dependant on - isloation from family and friends
If this condition widespread ?
YES. Because of the nature of the condition, however, sufferers tend to hide themselves away, afraid to tell other how they feel. Almost typically the untreated Agoraphobic believes that he/she is the only person to feel as he/she does. We now know that there are many thousands of sufferers in Canada and other countries. It is estimated that in the Toronto area alone, there are aprox. 300,000 sufferers. US estimates are approx 20 MILLION sufferers. Many feel that the numbers are higher since many may not be classified as having Agoraphobia when they are treated for substance abuse. Many professionals in the field feel that the tendency towards substance abuse is linked to Agoraphobia.
What can be done about it ?
The first step is to convince the sufferer that he/she is not alone, that he/she is one of amny thousands of people in Canada suffering from this condition. The next step is to show him/her that Agoraphobia is treatable. Professional treatment is usually but results of treatment in general, are good, and many thousands of people have been helped back to normal living as a result of a proper treatment program.
Agoraphobics seeking treatment are advised to to first consult their family doctor. Make a printout of this bulletin and show it to your doctor, to the doctor better understand what the Agoraphobic feels. Your doctor will the necessary referrals for you. Another bulletin will outline where to seek treatment in the Toronto area.
The key is to remember that many suffer from Agoraphobia and that there is treatment for this problem.
Note : this bulletin was put together by the staff at Canadian
Investor BBS (416) 897-6047 & 897-7065. Please feel free to post this up as a bulletin on any BBS. We only ask that you leave this note in your bulletin. The reason for that is that Canadian Investor BBS has an area reserved for Agoraphobia and panic & anxiety sufferers.