Agoraphobia is a very real disorder affecting many people around the world. Many of us assume it’s simply the fear of being in wide open spaces, but agoraphobia is actually more than that. People with agoraphobia are afraid of situations in which escaping could be difficult or they might not be able to receive the help they need. Their bodies are thrown into full-blown panic attacks when put into these scenarios. So what can you do if you know someone suffering from this disorder? Here are a few ideas.
- Educate yourself. If someone you know suffers from an extreme panic disorder or agoraphobia, learn all you can about it. Your knowledge and understanding of what they are experiencing can be the best gift you can give them. So many people simply shrug it off as being childish or the person is simply over-reacting. This disorder is real, and those suffering from it need your support.
- Don’t push recovery. It must be the decision of the person suffering from agoraphobia to take steps to overcome. You can’t, and shouldn’t, push someone into recovery. Your job is to be supportive and understanding, not push them into their worst nightmare. When you push someone with agoraphobia, you can actually increase their anxiety level and make the fear more severe.
- Be or find a companion. Some people with agoraphobia are ready to work on their fear. People interested in overcoming their fear need a lot of support. It takes lots of tiny baby steps to progress toward the ultimate goal of leaving their home freely without care. Depending on the severity of the case, the first steps could be going to a place like a grocery store or shopping mall for a few minutes and remaining calm, or it could be as small as taking a walk around their yard. Regardless, having a companion to accompany them in these early steps is key to feeling confident and brave.
- Run errands. Can you imagine if you couldn’t go to all the places you normally go to in a week? The grocery store, the pharmacy, the vet, pet store, post office, mall, school, work, etc. – how different would your life be, and how would you take care of everything you need to get done? This is a true dilemma for people with agoraphobia. If you don’t have time to run these errands yourself, consider hiring an errand service for them. You’ll not only be helping them with their tasks, but also recognizing that you understand the phobia they are dealing with.
Watching someone you love cope with panic attacks and agoraphobia can be heartbreaking, even more so because you cannot be the cure. You can, however, help them through it. Be supportive and offer your services as you are able. If you know someone who could benefit from errand services, call Errand Works. Our employees are compassionate, understanding and reliable and can help reduce your loved one’s stress by taking care of the things they are not able to — grocery shopping, vet trips, pharmacy drop-off and pickup, post office runs and more.