The past year took us by surprise when we were confined within the four walls due to the deadly Coronavirus, a pandemic that shook the entire globe. While the virus kept making inroads into households and lives of people, silently, a deadly mental disorder with the potential of mentally shattering and devastating an individual started to show up.
What is Agoraphobia – Symptoms, treatment, and more
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, “In the US, about 2% of adults and teens have agoraphobia”. If someone is suffering from this ailment, he becomes anxious when he is feeling helpless and out of control.
For instance, the one suffering from agoraphobia will feel anxious about being judged by people or trapped in any situation not quite to their liking.
As such, to avoid the same feeling from overpowering them, they prefer to stay at home and not move out.
One of the main symptoms of this ailment is a fearful situation, being either in one such situation or fearing you might fall into one. It might be manifested in the form of a panic attack, characterized by rapid heartbeats, dizziness, and sweating. If they see other people experiencing distress, they become even more tensed and anxious.
Mental health impact of Covid 19- Covid depression
The pandemic has confined people within their homes. You cannot stir out of the house as you are expected to maintain social distancing.
Agoraphobia is a condition when you feel insecure and apprehensive about being trapped in a situation where you might feel embarrassed or threatened. This virus has caused many individuals to go out of their minds.
Several cases have been reported when people affected with Covid-19 have fallen into a deep depression. You must have already come across reports where even celebrities have finished their lives. Covid has made people lose their jobs, many have found it difficult to make ends meet and have not been able to get a square meal too.
This has led to a vicious cycle where people have to face the worst-case scenario that they have ever imagined. Such has been the impact of Covid 19.
According to American Psychological Association (APA), Americans are currently facing a mental health crisis, the aftermath of which might last for several decades to come. Increasingly, the affected are succumbing to anxiety and stress like never before.
However, there is a thin line that can be held responsible for the agoraphobic approach of those living with the pandemic. This is because our instinct will not allow us to go to crowded places. Also, you do not feel like going to an unknown place or places that are potential dangers that you assume.
How susceptible are you to agoraphobia?
If you have been experiencing the following symptoms, you might develop this ailment and more prone to depression during Covid. These signals are as follows-
- If you are already suffering from any other anxiety disorder or get panic attacks
- You are 35 years old and above
- If you have agoraphobia in your family
- Your overall personality is such that you are worrisome most of the time.
Even if you have been reeling under the spell of agoraphobia and suffering from Covid anxiety, there is help at hand. There is a treatment for agoraphobia and Covid.
The first type of treatment that you will find is effective is behavioral therapy. This is called “graded exposure”.
Dr. Samuel Nordberg is the Chief of Reliant’s Department of Behavioral Health. According to him, “In graded exposure, patients gradually, and in a planned manner, expose themselves to what they have been avoiding. For instance, they might do their food shopping in a small neighborhood grocery store and then gradually work their way up to going to a larger supermarket. Some patients also benefit from having a friend or family member accompany them to provide reassurance and support until they can go on their own”.
Few experts think that it will be difficult even for people to get back to their normal lives once the idea of social distancing lifts. However, what we need to see is how the ones that are already suffering or have been victims of Covid anxiety will cope up when these very people have to stay indoors once lockdowns are imposed again following the second wave of infection which has virus strains that are being claimed to be deadlier.
Tips for Covid Anxiety
Aside from the above, you can follow these tips to get rid of Covid anxiety or for that matter agoraphobia-
- Stay away from conversations and media news that might trigger panic and anxiety attacks. Do not pay attention to the so-called “Covid Count” and most importantly, refrain from discussing such issues.
- Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation. Diaphragmatic breathing is also effective during these times when your body is susceptible to conditions like flight or fight.
- When you are about to sink into panic mode, get up right away and engage yourself in a task. Thus, turning your attention from the trigger to productive work. Although, this is easier said than done, if you start practicing it once, you will make it a habit.
- You can also join online support forums or communities the members of which share the same concern. You can discuss your problems with them and find out how they tame their minds during the crisis.
In a nutshell, remember, panic attacks are temporary and a transient phase that will not last long. So, do not let it control your mind and life, no matter how serious Covid gets in a short time.