Agoraphobia is an extremely difficult condition to understand if you don’t live with it. Many people have loved ones who suffer from agoraphobia. If you have a person in your life who is afraid to leave their house, that can be extremely difficult. Perhaps you’re invited to a family gathering, but your partner has agoraphobia and they are fearful to go. They’re worried that they will feel embarrassed. No matter what you say, you cannot console them to make them feel better about going to the event. You end up canceling because you don’t want to spark their anxiety, and you don’t want to attend alone. These are the struggles that could happen when someone you love suffers from agoraphobia. You can’t be their therapist, but you can’t support them as they get the help they need.
Understanding your loved one’s condition
As with any mental health or physical health condition, it’s important to learn about it, including the signs and symptoms. Just because you don’t have agoraphobia doesn’t mean you can’t research it. Your loved one has the condition. Reading up on it, and understanding agoraphobia can help you support them best. They may have quirks and triggers that you don’t understand. By doing research on agoraphobia you will be better equipped to be empathetic towards them. You can read articles about agoraphobia on Mind Diagnostics. The more you know about the condition the better you will be to be there for your loved one and you may become less frustrated at their symptoms if you understand where they’re coming from.
Ask them questions about how they feel
It’s best not to assume how somebody feels or experiences their mental health condition. You can always ask your loved one how they feel when they’re having symptoms of agoraphobia. Maybe you don’t know what it’s like to have a panic attack. You can ask how they are feeling when they’re afraid to go outside. It can help to talk about agoraphobia when the person is not in an episode of anxiety. They may not be able to express themselves coherently when they’re panicking. When things are calm and you’re sitting around the house you can ask how it feels to be them when they are afraid to leave the house. That way you’ll have more insight into how they feel.
Be there for them when they are anxious
When somebody with agoraphobia is panicking it is a scary feeling. They feel unsafe and they don’t know how to get back to a space of safety. As somebody who loves a person with agoraphobia, you can be there for them. Ask them what you can do in the moment. Maybe they need a glass of water. Perhaps they want to tell you how they’re feeling and get those emotions out. Simply by asking how you can help, or what they need, your loved one will appreciate your efforts to be there for them. It’s not easy living with agoraphobia, but when you have people who can support you it helps you feel supported.
Don’t make assumptions that an agoraphobic person doesn’t want to attend an event
Just because a person has agoraphobia doesn’t mean they will always be afraid to leave the house. If you have a friend with agoraphobia invite them to events. They may not be able to make it but don’t assume that they don’t want to go just because they have trouble leaving their house. That is stigmatizing. You can always invite them and ask them if there’s anything that you could do to help them go.
Guide your loved one toward getting help
One of the most important things that somebody with agoraphobia needs is a good therapist. They have a mental health condition that prevents them from living their life in the outside world. That is one of the myths that we need to understand about people with agoraphobia; the person doesn’t want to live life in a limited way. Their brain is telling them that it is unsafe to go outside and that there are things that could hurt them. On some level, they know these fears are irrational, but they can’t shake them. A person with agoraphobia would love to be able to go outside and be around other individuals. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. That’s why getting a therapist can help.
How therapy helps Agoraphobia
Mental health professionals understand agoraphobia and can work with your loved one to find the source of their triggers. Therapists use many different types of treatments, including exposure therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy. You don’t have to be your loved one’s therapist, but you can guide them toward getting a mental health professional who can help them. Agoraphobia is a real mental health condition, and it’s something that you can learn to face in therapy.
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