What You Need to Know About Agoraphobia and the Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have many mental health repercussions on people around the world. The quarantine, economic downturn, and virus itself can all trigger the development of mental health disorders, including agoraphobia. We encourage people to learn about this disorder, how the pandemic could trigger it, and when to get help.
What are the Symptoms of Agoraphobia?
Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder marked by extreme fear and avoidance of situations that could cause one to feel trapped, embarrassed, or not in control. Often, these situations include public transportation, crowded events, enclosed spaces, and long lines.
When faced with such a situation, many people with agoraphobia have panic attacks or similar symptoms, such as:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- Feeling of dread
- Upset stomach
- Hot flash
Some people with agoraphobia do not experience panic attacks. However, they do have such extreme fear that it interrupts their daily lives.
How Could Quarantine and the Pandemic Cause Agoraphobia?
COVID-19 has caused real fears about going into public. For people who are already at risk for developing agoraphobia, this fear could become extreme and turn into a disorder. Even as the risk of COVID-19 eventually declines, the extreme fear of the virus could remain.
The pandemic and resulting quarantine have also caused extreme uncertainty. People are unsure how others will act in public places and even familiar places can feel foreign with new guidelines. This uncertainty can also cause extreme fears and agoraphobia as restrictions ease.
Are Some People More at Risk?
Although anyone can develop agoraphobia, some people have a greater risk of it than others. You may be at an increased risk of developing agoraphobia if you:
- Are biologically related to someone with the disorder
- Live with another anxiety disorder, like panic disorder
- Are a woman
- Are under the age of 35
Another risk factor for agoraphobia is experiencing unusual stress or trauma. Because the pandemic has caused stress on just about everyone, all people have some increase in their risk of developing agoraphobia.
When Should Someone Seek Help?
If you’re struggling to cope with any aspect of the pandemic, you could benefit from online therapy and/or medication. We highly recommend seeking treatment as soon as you notice signs of agoraphobia or any other anxiety disorder. We offer virtual psychiatric appointments and therapy, allowing you to get the help you deserve without leaving home.