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blooiejagwa
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05 Dec 2018, 10:41 pm

If anyone here has agoraphobia or managed to overcome it, or knows about it, please help me.


1. Biggest fear is being outside/around people. If there are no people somewhere, I am fine.

2. Still isolation is very bad for me (or anyone) too. But don't know or want to get to know people. Cannot cope (do not know the reason for this).

3. Have subdued Panic attacks (they used to be extreme, although I told nobody, I would just stay in the parking lot in car for hours if possible, or as long as possible.)

4. My therapist doesn't seem to know about it. She thinks it can be intellectualized away (maybe it can? but I need guidelines or structure to unravel it)

5. Have had it all my life, off and on (i.e. sometimes it was very strong, sometims it was present but easy to push through).

EG It was very bad in the final year of high school (I would skip school or stay in the bathroom and empty spots in school all day).

6. I believe my brain is extremely afraid of human beings due to bad experiences and no amount of rationalizing will ease it. Medication helps subdue it but I want to be rid of it entirely.



SabbraCadabra
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06 Dec 2018, 6:17 am

I didn't think I had it, but after having the worst panic attack of my life this year (I was seriously considering pointing my car towards the hospital), I looked it up, and I think I might have it a little bit.

Normally I'm fine, but if I'm driving somewhere hectic or unfamiliar, I don't do very well. I also have a huge fear of having my car break down, and having to rely on someone else to come help (which has happened quite a few times). Then when my car gets fixed, I still get minor panic attacks, just worrying that something else will go wrong with it right after.


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blooiejagwa
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06 Dec 2018, 5:37 pm

Were you able to find a solution? Eg do you have a specific recommendation for medication ?
Mine is bad except with certain ppl right by my side (eg sons therapist )



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06 Dec 2018, 5:57 pm

I won't claim to have experienced what you're going through, but will offer some thoughts in case they help. I do tend to avoid people if I can--won't go to the walking park if I know it's crowded, don't go to stores if I know they're crowded, etc. Avoid being at the office with others if I can, without drawing attention to myself. I've had decades of chronic physical pains that I've only slowly learned are from a lot of sensory overload and forced social interaction (like forcing eye contact, lots of masking), and fear of stimulation from interacting with others too much. I often feel like I'm experiencing one long, mostly suppressed panic attack.

blooiejagwa wrote:
1. Biggest fear is being outside/around people. If there are no people somewhere, I am fine.


What specifically scares you? Understanding that may help you to start getting over or managing the fear. Is it stuff like eye contact/interaction? Harm they might do to you? Both? Something else? You don't have to answer here, but figuring that out on your own may help.

Quote:
4. My therapist doesn't seem to know about it. She thinks it can be intellectualized away (maybe it can? but I need guidelines or structure to unravel it)


Well, hopefully you do find a way to work through it, but is it helpful to think of it as a rational response to a perceived threat? Maybe these people aren't really such a threat to you, but something about the situation feels threatening. I know my feelings aren't the objective truth, but it helps me to see them as natural responses to what I sense, rather than worrying about how I should feel (which I've done for years). Maybe that would help you.

Quote:
5. Have had it all my life, off and on (i.e. sometimes it was very strong, sometimes it was present but easy to push through).


Is it possible that pushing through things made them worse?

Quote:
6. I believe my brain is extremely afraid of human beings due to bad experiences and no amount of rationalizing will ease it. Medication helps subdue it but I want to be rid of it entirely.


Like I said above, the emotional response may be very rational considering your bad experiences. Do you feel ashamed about this panic? It sounds like you've gone through some horrible things and your response is completely natural. Though, for obvious reasons, you'd like to not keep going through this panic.


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SabbraCadabra
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06 Dec 2018, 6:29 pm

blooiejagwa wrote:
Were you able to find a solution? Eg do you have a specific recommendation for medication ?

My roommate says I should get on some kind of anxiety medication, but I'm rather hesitant to go to those lengths.


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jimmy m
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06 Dec 2018, 6:53 pm

Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by symptoms of anxiety in situations where the person perceives their environment to be unsafe with no easy way to escape. These situations can include open spaces, public transit, shopping centers, or simply being outside their home.

I am not an expert on Agoraphobia. I suspect that it is a condition that begins at infancy and progressively gets worse over time as layers of stress continue to build in a person. So the way to minimize this condition is to vent stress and learn techniques for reducing stress loads.

Physiological separation anxiety typically becomes manifest in individuals between 6 and 12 months of age and remains clearly observable until approximately the age of 3 years, to steadily abate afterwards. Through the advent of the separation call, a clearer, more interactive mother-infant bond became possible, and formed the basis for an exquisitely human variant of separation anxiety, the one that, by strengthening the mother-infant bond, created the basis for another distinctively human realization: the family as stable unit of highly individualized relationships and the smallest component of societies. This separation anxiety can transition into Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD) as the child grows and later psychopathology (panic disorder and agoraphobia) over time. So you might think of agoraphobia is a natural tendency of infants to become distressed when their mother is not present to protect them. This tendency in your case did not disappear at age 3 but rather the shadow of this distress reaction still resides deep within you, in your core and flares up when things become too stressful.

One of the interesting finding from research is that childhood SAD, and panic disorder bear a relationship to carbon dioxide sensitivity, largely due to a common set of genes. Another paper concludes panic disorder may be due to an inherently unstable autonomic nervous system, coupled with cognitive distress. Hyperventilation and increased arousal in response to heightened carbon dioxide are common to all mammals. Children with SAD and adults with panic disorder show exaggerated emotional and respiratory responses to carbon dioxide enriched air mixtures; since carbon dioxide provokes rapid acidification of blood, these anxiety disorders may share a distinctive sensitivity to acidification of brain pH. A recent, promising avenue towards the understanding of carbon dioxide hypersensitivity in animals and man has been developed by focusing on the possible role of the acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) that are implicated in anxiety, pH sensing, and nociception.

[You might scratch the last paragraph.] The panic attack is not caused by the carbon dioxide levels but the other way around. In a panic attack, the person hyperventilates (short shallow breathes) and does not expel carbon dioxide from their lungs properly. Therefore their carbon dioxide levels increase in their blood. The panic attack is caused by stress overload and one way to come out of a panic attack is to relax and take very deep slow breathes that expel the carbon dioxide buried deep within the lungs from the body.


Now I am going to suggest something that is very, very off-the-wall. Like most Aspies, I do not look in peoples eyes. Fifty years ago, I did something that was rather strange and produced strange results. I began wearing a pair of mirrored sunglasses similar to what police wore at the time. The surface of the lens was a perfect mirror. I could look out but no one could see my eyes. They could only see their reflected eyes. I think the glasses were very intimidating to others. But for me it was like a one way mirror and I felt very comfortable, like I was completely invisible. So if you have nothing better to do, then buy a pair of policeman like mirrored glasses and try them for awhile when you are up-and-about and let me know of your impressions. Did the glasses make it easier to venture from your home. Message me the results.



SabbraCadabra
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06 Dec 2018, 8:05 pm

jimmy m wrote:
The panic attack is caused by stress overload and one way to come out of a panic attack is to relax and take very deep slow breathes that expel the carbon dioxide buried deep within the lungs from the body.

Yeah, I try to remind myself to practice 5-2-5 breathing.


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jimmy m
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06 Dec 2018, 11:28 pm

SabbraCadabra wrote:
Yeah, I try to remind myself to practice 5-2-5 breathing.


A half a century ago I trained for scuba diving and obtained my diving license. Some of the training included free diving. I remember a breathing technique that was used in free diving. It was very efficient at emptying out all the carbon dioxide from the lungs and replacing it with air in preparation for a dive. I am not aware of 5-2-5 but this other type of breathing may be a better technique.

Here is a video explaining the technique. The BEST Breathing Exercise to Boost Performance From A 4X World Champion

I think expelling the carbon dioxide efficiently is part of the process, relaxation another part and cooling the core of your body (your lungs) is the last part in exiting a panic attack.

One of the techniques of pulling yourself out of a panic attack is called the Vagal Maneuver. Medical Doctors use various types of techniques to produce a Vagal Maneuver. One approach is called Cold Water Treatment or Cold Stimulus to the Face. This is done by placing an icepack or a bag of ice or a washcloth soaked in ice water on your face for 15 seconds. Or you can immerse your face in icy cold water for several seconds. It might also work to step into a cold shower or a cold bath. This creates a physiological response similar to a person being submerged in cold water (Diver’s Reflex). This is a very quick way of mechanically forcing yourself out of a panic attack.

So although when you are going into a panic attack, it might be difficult to find ice or an ice pack, one might be able to generate a Vagal Maneuver by rapidly circulating cold air (colder than the body temperature) in the lungs through this type of breathing technique.



SabbraCadabra
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07 Dec 2018, 6:06 am

jimmy m wrote:
I am not aware of 5-2-5 but this other type of breathing may be a better technique.

Breathe in for five seconds, hold it for two seconds, breathe out for five seconds.


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blooiejagwa
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07 Dec 2018, 6:56 pm

SabbraCadabra wrote:
jimmy m wrote:
I am not aware of 5-2-5 but this other type of breathing may be a better technique.

Breathe in for five seconds, hold it for two seconds, breathe out for five seconds.


Today I saw your 5-2-5 thing and used it while driving. It really helped calm me down during driving. Thanks!



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08 Dec 2018, 9:58 pm

I helped my ex gf overcome her agoraphobia, when I met her she had not left her house in years. Within a month I helped get out and slowly overcome her anxiety using CBT systematic desensitization exposure therapy I had learned to treat my own anxiety(though I didn't have agoraphobia rather social anxiety).

I worked with her to create a hierarchy of anxiety provoking situations having her rate them from least anxiety provoking to the most anxiety provoking. We started at the easiest situation and gradually worked our way up the list over the weeks. I would ask her to start with something as simple as walking by a window in her house(which should would even avoid). I asked her to rate her anxiety out of 10, and would ask her again at 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes.

I would tell her that it is physiologically impossible to maintain the same amount of anxiety level indefinitely, that her anxiety would drop over time, even if only by a few points, but as it dropped I made sure she was aware of it and was mindful of the decrease in her anxiety levels over time. We would repeat the scenario again and again until that scenario no longer paralyzed her. Her anxiety levels never went to zero but that isn't the point.

Eventually we moved to going outside when there was no one around, to going outside in the car to where there were a few people to walking around the neighbourhood etc etc repeating the steps above. Anxiety is either improving because you are actively working on your anxiety by exposing yourself to anxiety provoking situations or it is getting worse because you are actively engaging in avoidance behaviour. Each time you expose yourself to an anxiety provoking situation it gets a little bit easier the next time. Conversely each time you give into your anxiety and avoid that which makes you anxious, the next time you encounter the same situation, your anxiety will be a little worse.

You can add in breathing exercises listed above and some other techniques to challenge any distorted thinking that may be contributing to your anxiety. Google "list of cognitive distortions". There is a list of usually 10 but sometimes more depending on the list you find. For example someone with panic disorder may engage in the distortion known as "catastrophizing", by predicting a negative outcome for an event that they don't yet know how it will turn out, this negative prediction can actually make it more likely that what you fear will happen. "If I go to the store I know I am going to have a panic attack". You don't know that. For any situation that you do not know what the outcome will be, there is always a positive, neutral and negative possible outcome. With mental illnesses, you tend to focus on only the negative possible outcome.

Once you learn the cognitive distortions, practice noticing when they show up in your thought processes and challenge them. This will help to make the systematic desensitization exposure therapy process easier by giving yourself the tools you need to work through it.


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SabbraCadabra
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10 Dec 2018, 6:16 am

blooiejagwa wrote:
Today I saw your 5-2-5 thing and used it while driving. It really helped calm me down during driving. Thanks!

Good to hear =)

I've had mixed results with it, myself, but I think it would help if I practiced it more often.


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blooiejagwa
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10 Dec 2018, 12:08 pm

Yes the breathing I did again I timed myself for 40 minutes- it definitely helps.

I am just like your ex GF, Noca. Even a slightly open window curtain would make me extremely scared or some unknown feeling (anxiety, despair, etc?) - I made myself live in my new place with no windows or even newspapers to cover it up and I slowly minimized it

It’s still there. I guess this fear is lifelong you just need to suppress it and minimize it. At any moment it has the potential to get out of control

Right now I was out of home for a while out of schedule, and ‘recovering‘ after that is basically like constantly telling yourself you are ok etc and a lot of uncontrollable anxiety and panic that was suppressed coming out AFTER its all over
Like no matter what that has never changed my whole life no matter how much exposure n pushing through it Ive done n therapy n thought records

I don’t think it can go away unless u can get meds fr it but if anyone knows of that plz share



blooiejagwa
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10 Dec 2018, 12:10 pm

Fr real and severe OCD like my brother’s there is a biological structural reason u cannot cure it only minimize it but its always there i bet they will after research find the same fr agoraphobia



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10 Dec 2018, 12:15 pm

It’s not anybody or anything specific im scared of or anticipating ‘im going to get a panic attack ‘ etc none of that

Its just extremely tense like too much all at once just push through try to get all tasks and items done and try to get out of it successfully


But its an active thing u are fighting its like imagine if there is a deer. N u chain the deer somewhere in the middle of a crowded path. The deer will still b feeling instinctively a need to run and feeling overwhelmed and scared for no particular reason it can discern or articulate. Its just built in to its system and brain and reflex response. It cd force itself to try n deal with it but it cannot shut that off

So its the same type of thing.