Monday, September 25, 2023
Home Health What is Agoraphobia? What is the best anti-anxiety therapy

What is Agoraphobia? What is the best anti-anxiety therapy

Likewise, this syndrome can be confused with other disorders, such as Agoraphobia, which shares symptoms such as the fear of leaving the protection of the home. “What differentiates both is that cabin syndrome is an intense behavioural and emotional reaction, but not psychopathological in itself, associated with a real situation of lack of control outside the safety zone (the cabin), while agoraphobia is a mental disorder in which the person presents an episode of intense and disproportionate fear or anxiety in situations that, by their very nature, do not justify such a response (being away from home alone; going by car or on the bus, in open spaces or stores, queuing…)

The most crucial difference is that, while in Agoraphobia, the patient is unaware of the origin of this disorder and a long period of psychotherapeutic work is necessary to associate the cause with this behaviour, the cabin syndrome occurs reactively in the face of a known and identified the situation, not only in the case of Covid but in other problems in which it can also occur, such as prolonged admission to hospitals, prisons or kidnappings.

Another difference is that Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder, and cabin syndrome could be considered a condition due to habituation to closed and reduced spaces and is not, as such, considered an anxiety disorder, although the symptoms may get confused. “Even so, the cabin syndrome can become chronic in an agoraphobic disorder if it is not handled properly,” warns the psychologist.

Managing the “new reality”: the best anti-anxiety therapy

Experts agree that the best way to deal with the discomfort caused by this syndrome is, on the one hand, not to lose sight of the fact that it is a logical -and punctual- response to the situation we have experienced and, on the other, to learn to adapt to the new reality that is emerging in the coming months.

“The starting point must be to have real, rigorous, contrasted information offered by people you trust (family member, a doctor at the health centre or the politician on duty, the point is that it inspires confidence).

it is essential to learn to manage uncertainty, a capacity that has a lot to do with enjoying high levels of psychological well-being: “Life is pure uncertainty; what happens is that we try to control all aspects when It is true that our ability to influence reality is much lower than we think (as the situation we have experienced has shown). So it is important to keep this in mind and invest time and effort in developing the emotional regulation capacity to tolerate uncertainty better and learn to live with it.” 

Along the same lines, Pilar Guerra emphasises the need to be clear about why it is normal to feel out of place in a context like the current one: “Everything makes sense: the effort we have all made to adapt to confinement has been very intense. Now, you have to change the context, which also requires a change of registry, and changing the registry requires coping skills, which in turn require time and new learning”.

The psychologist offers some guidelines to make this adaptation to the new reality more bearable: 

  • First of all, give ourselves time to manage this whole situation. 
  • Live the day-to-day, the moment. This avoids having anticipatory crises about a future that, in many aspects, is uncertain. 
  • Work in other areas that compensate for overthinking and stress (for example, meditation).
  • Choose situations and people that provide peace of mind, and avoid conflict situations.
  • Take care of ourselves, remembering that we have needed very little in these months, which highlights the enormous capacity for adaptation that we all have.
  • Review our needs and priorities.
Profiles are more vulnerable to “emotional slowdown.”

According to Pilar Guerra, cabin syndrome occurs in a more or less generalised way: “It is a set of emotions, feelings, thoughts and behaviours observed in almost the entire population. Within this syndrome, there are people with greater vulnerability, due to having previous personality traits or presenting certain symptoms.” The expert explains what they are: 

  • Disorders due to hypochondria and psychosomatization: “In these people, the vulnerability to the fear of contagion is greater, so they will show more avoidance attitudes and reactions when going out, for example.”
  • People with phobias concerning spaces previously suffered from claustrophobia, Agoraphobia, etc. “They are more resistant to normalizing since their previous behaviour before confinement was already altered.”
  • People with symptoms of social phobia or asocial behaviour: “Similarly, they will have much more difficulty normalizing their routines and socializing.” 
  • Elderly people: “This group has been deprived of their daily habits, such as exercising, walking, going for walks… Now they have gotten out of the habit, and returning to the rhythm is proving difficult.”
“There is no place like home.”

It is not only the fear of contagion that makes it difficult for many people to return to normality; some, to their surprise, have discovered during confinement that they feel very comfortable in their homes or have realized that their previous Life (characterized by haste and days away from home) did not fully satisfy them and, therefore, Therefore, when the de-escalation began, they chose to prolong the “confinement mode”. For Jesús Matos, the fact of being comfortable at home and that we feel less like going out does not have to become a problem or be considered something pathological, “as long as no area of ​​our lives is left aside and that the decision to stay at home is due to our real desires and not to unfounded fears”.

However, the psychologist points out, “we must not forget that the human being is a social animal and needs to establish emotional ties. If we deprive ourselves of such social support for a long time, it is normal for our emotional states to be affected. Therefore, and as Aristotle said, virtue is at the midpoint”.


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