Agoraphobia is one of the more restricting and depressing conditions related to panic attacks. While some people know it as a fear of open spaces it is actually a fear of a loss of control where the sufferer will panic once they leave a place of control and security which is usually their own home which leads to the misconception about open spaces. So ‘how to overcome agoraphobia’ actually means ‘how to remain calm when not in total control of a situation’ and while most agoraphobia treatments know this they tend to approach it in the wrong way.
While it is natural to feel uneasy when situations are out of your control agoraphobics take this to an unhealthy level having panic attacks whenever they cannot handle the situation, coupled with this is a heightened sense of out of what is controllable and uncontrollable. While most people have no problems being outside or in crowded places because they have a good sense of risk and can handle randomness without being too flustered an agoraphobic cannot maintain this calmness and will break down. This can lead to serious problems with most treatments as most will involve unfamiliarity and uncertainty or no guarantee of success which is again an unknown element.
If we look at the most conventional agoraphobia treatments we can see a list of downsides.Behavior Therapy
This is where the patient gets exposed to situations that would make them panic gradually to harden them against those things. This is problematic as it is very scary for the agoraphobic and if someone else is setting these situations up there is a lack of trust and control over the entire treatment. It may work but it is long and painful and many sufferers quit before they learn to cope.Cognitive Therapy
This is the classic ‘lie on a couch and talk about your problems’ approach which poses many problems for agoraphobics. It is often very hard for them to make appointments to meet therapists, it is long and costly and the presence of the therapist is an uncontrollable factor for a long time until a large amount of trust is gained. The reliance on the therapist can also just transfer the sense of control to the therapist’s room not curing the root causes.Relaxation Techniques
While not harmful and sometimes helpful no amount of breathing techniques can cure the root cause of agoraphobia, it is often used in conjunction with other treatments and helps against the symptoms but is not a cure in its own right.Hypnotherapy
This method allows the therapist to “reprogram” the sufferers thought patterns to a degree and has been shown to work with some phobias however agoraphobics fear of handing over control of themselves are usually horrified of the thought of someone else tinkering with their brains!
By now you can probably see a pattern emerging. All of these require heavy outside influence and often harsh methods that will scare off many sufferers. What is needed is an Agoraphobia treatment that gives the power and control to the individual with the condition. Only when the agoraphobic can feel in control as they progress further along their treatment can they keep motivated and learn to ease themselves into a more healthy state of mind. While the goal is to remove the need for total control one needs a great measure of control of their destiny to start along the path so they can eventually learn they can handle the unexpected and unusual. How to overcome agoraphobia is not about other people beating a new reality into the agoraphobic’s brain but about the agoraphobic taking control of his own life and knowing that control of his own self will make him stand strong against those things that are out of his control!