Agoraphobia is defined as anxiety one experiences about being in situations or places from which it might be difficult to escape or help might not be available in the event of a panic attack or panic like symptoms. The anxiety leads to avoidance of situations or if a person is in that situation it leads to significant anxiety. Sometimes people are able to participate in the feared situation if they are not alone and are being accompanied by a companion.
Some commonly avoided situations due to agoraphobia include:
For some individuals’ avoidances can create significant distress and interference in their daily activities, work, travel, school, family and social relations.
Agoraphobia can be present along with Panic disorder or without a history of a panic disorder.
Panic disorder is characterized by unexpected and recurrent panic attacks. People find the panic attacks to be extremely fearful and often worry about having additional panic attacks. Also, they worry about the possible consequences of the panic attacks, such as “fear of dying”, “losing control”, “going crazy”, or “fainting”. The panic attacks can also lead people to change their behaviour to feel “safer” or in an effort to prevent future attacks.
A panic attack is rush of intense fear or discomfort during which you experience a number of physical sensations. These feelings may come “out of the blue”, for no apparent reason or they might be associated with a stressful situation. A panic attack can occur at anytime during the day and for some people during sleep. The rush of fear and discomfort reaches it’s peak level very quickly, typically within minutes, where as for other people it develops over a period of time and the physical sensations take longer to subside.
Commonly experienced physical sensations during a panic attack include:
Research based psychological interventions such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) have been found to be an effective form of treatment for Agoraphobia (with or without a history of panic attacks). Dr. Ahmed’s approach to psychological interventions is grounded in scientific-based approaches such a CBT, and she often integrates elements from other therapeutic modalities, such as mindfulness, motivational interviewing, schema focused therapy and client focused therapy based on her clients’ needs and preferences. She provides her clients with services that are customized based on the goals they are hoping to achieve. The sessions will provide you with the skills and strategies to manage your anxious thoughts, not be fearful of your physical sensations and begin to participate in activities and situations that you may be avoiding.
Taking the first step towards seeking help for your anxiety can be challenging. In particular, speaking to a psychologist may seem daunting but rest assured Dr. Ahmed provides a supportive, collaborative, non-judgmental environment so that you can feel comfortable expressing your concerns. Participating in psychological services can help you learn how to overcome your panic attacks and begin to enjoy your life instead of worrying about it.
Contact Dr. Ahmed for a consultation and inquire further about the process.