In the last year I have left my house a handful of times. At the worst points I didn’t leave my bedroom. I just felt comfortable, and the thought of leaving would trigger anxiety that would build up. This condition can destroy your perception of reality. I have lost contact with so many people in the last few years due to mental health issues. I’m sharing a case with you now of another instance of agoraphobia.
Agoraphobia Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder where sufferers avoid situations that cause them to panic. It can even turn into a disability, making patients such as Mrs. E. L (a 91-year-old woman) afraid to leave their home.
Mrs. E. L’s agoraphobia was tied to her fear of death, also known as thanatophobia. These two phobias are often associated with each other. Mrs. E. L’s phobia led her to believe that leaving her bed would cause her to be buried alive or hurt.
With the help of mental health professionals, Mrs. E. L was able to eventually leave her bed. While she still struggled with going outside, her agoraphobia lessened in severity and she was able to leave her home.
While agoraphobia can be a disability, it does not have to be a permanent one. With proper help, sufferers are able to achieve great improvement. Consistent, gradual exposure therapy has been found to have successful results in improving agoraphobia.
Poor mental health can directly or indirectly cause poor physical health as well. Mrs. E. L had physical issues such as cataracts and anemia that had gone untreated because her agoraphobia limited her from going to the hospital.
Mrs. E. L had seen success with her exposure therapy. At no point during treatment did she experience a relapse with the severity of her agoraphobia. Instead, she continued to make improvements. She went from being bedridden to leaving her room.
Agoraphobia has a tight hold on its sufferers. Even though Mrs. E. L was in the next room from her husband, she was unable to check on him when he didn’t respond to her. Instead of going to check on him, she called 911.
There are many theories about what causes agoraphobia. Clinicians and therapists have observed that other anxiety disorders, environmental causes, and substance abuse are often correlated with agoraphobia. The amygdala may also be to blame.
Separation anxiety is common with agoraphobia. Mrs. E. L would experience great anxiety when left alone. She would stay with her brother while her husband worked to avoid being alone. After a while, she forbid her husband from leaving the house as well.
The strange case of Mrs. E. L proves that sufferers of agoraphobia can improve with proper treatment. While it may take years to see a big improvement, the positive impact of exposure therapy on mental health is undeniable.