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  • Writer's picturekellyharveylpc

Managing agoraphobia

Updated: Mar 14, 2023



The way out of anxiety is through it. Agoraphobia arises from trying to avoid situations in which anxiety is likely to arise, which is specific to each person: driving, being in crowds, speaking with strangers. People become focused on the possibilities of what could go wrong, and become so paralyzed with fear that they cannot get out the door. One thing that I have found useful is a technique from CBT called “downward arrow” [1] combined with hypnotherapy and reframing. With this technique, you explore the fear, the “worst case scenario”, but then figure out if there is a way you could get through it. If you can get through that, you work backwards. How likely is it that your worst case is likely to happen every time you leave the house?

These techniques require a bit of finesse, and would be easiest to master with the help of a therapist skilled with anxiety disorders. Anxiety is very stressful when you have it, but it is very responsive to treatment! I’m giving you a sketch here, but using CBT combined with mindfulness, grounding techniques, lifestyle changes (sleep and dietary awareness) and education about how the brain responds to stress is often useful and effective.


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