The Causes and Treatment of Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is the fear of being in public places. The root of the word, “agora” is Greek and means “gathering” especially in public places. Phobia, of course, is fear. Agoraphobia can manifest itself as a mild anxiety when one is anywhere others gather to a debilitating inability to leave the home. Agoraphobia, like any phobia or fear, is based in a perception of being unsafe, threatened or in danger. Of course, much more often than not, these perceptions are faulty.

Agoraphobia can easily develop from any number of childhood experiences in which some form of perceived threat while in public is internalized. Even vicarious experiences, i.e., experiences that a child witnesses or observes, but is not a direct experience, can form into a phobia. For example, if a child, while in public, witnesses violence and is somewhat traumatized by that, the child could then become frightened of being in public. From then on, the thought of going out into public triggers that memory, the child become frightened, anxious and may even experience a full-blown panic attack. The anxiety and panic is actually a way the mind has of protecting the person. It inhibits going towards danger. And, in fact, some anxiety can be quite healthy in that regard. But, is there really danger? In some cases, there may be. In most cases, there is no real danger. Granted, there is always risk in going out the front door. For some, those who live in abusive household, there is risk and danger inside the front door. And we all have varying degrees of injuries and traumas from childhood. But, as our rational mind develops, we are increasingly able to recognize what happened then is not what happens now. What may have been a dangerous situation as a child, is now perceived as an adult as no longer a threat.

Those who, as an adult, suffer with agoraphobia, whether mild or extreme, can take steps to significantly reduce the symptoms, and perhaps even transform the causative perception to shift thereby completely eradicating the source of the fear, through a variety of treatments:

1) Psychoeducation. Understand agoraphobia. Research agoraphobia. Read as much as you can online about the causes, symptoms and treatment. The more you know about agoraphobia, the better equipped you are to deal with it.

2) Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). CBT is a psychotherapeutic approach, which examines, challenges and restructures the internal dialogue and subconscious mental pictures that generate anxiety and panic. There are many good articles and books on CBT. It is an effective intervention which one can begin on their own through self-study. Working with a professional who is versed in CBT is one of the more effective treatments.

3) Systematic Desensitization. Also referred to as Exposure Therapy, this is a process of very gradually confronting those situations or places that generate the anxiety and panic and learning to feel safe. This approach works exceptionally well in conjunction with CBT and is recommended to be conducted with a professional knowledgeable about these methods.

4) Meditation and Relaxation. Learning to self induce a state of calmness is not only beneficial in reducing symptoms of anxiety and panic, it is overall a very healthy thing to do. There is a wealth of information on the net about meditation and relaxation. A number of audio CD’s are available specifically designed to lower brain wave patterns and induce a deep state of meditative relaxation.

5) Hypnotherapy. Hypnosis can be helpful in creating a relaxed state of mind, implanting suggestions of safety and security and making subconscious associations of personal strength and capacity in those situations that have caused anxiety and panic. Hypnotherapy must be conducted with a skilled professional who is trained in therapeutic hypnosis.

6) Neurolinquistic Programming. A cognitive approach that explores the structure of perception, thought and belief with methodologies geared towards rapid emotional and behavioral changes.

7) Emotional Freedom Technique. A self induced system of tapping pressure points in conjunction with specific thought patterns to help alleviate the causes of trauma, anxiety and fears.

8) Medication. There are a number of medications that can be helpful in reducing symptoms of anxiety and panic. Medication is often a recommended adjunct to psychotherapy as it can dampen anxiety responses that make it easier to engage in such interventions as CBT or Exposure. Some of the more common medications prescribed are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft. Another family of medications, called benzodiazepines, such as Xanax and Klonopin, may also be prescribed. A prescribing physician needs to be consulted for those considering medication.

9) Alternative Medication. There are a number of natural remedies that have been shown to be helpful in reducing anxiety and increasing calmness. Some herbal teas can be quite relaxing; there is some research showing Kava as an effective anti-anxiety remedy.

Agoraphobia, like any anxiety or fear, is fundamentally a positive response to a perceived threat. The interventions above are all geared towards helping a person come to see that what has been perceived as a threat, is not and, consequently, the need for the anxiety, as protective mechanism, is, in fact, unnecessary.

Is There Treatment For PTSD?

Yes, there is treatment for PTSD, but a great first step is to get information and education about the disorder and then to attend a local PTSD support group. Therapy for this can be very expensive and so the more knowledge about it before going into therapy the better. Being educated and joining a support group can help you feel more in control of your emotions, have fewer symptoms, and enjoy life again.

One reason that treatment is often unsought by victims of the condition is that virtually addressing or any discussion of the offending trauma is bound to be quite painful, and stirs in the victim memories and emotions tied back to the event. You may need to try different types of treatment before finding the one that helps you and it is important to find the right therapist and/or therapy so that doesn’t add time to your recovery.

Generally, treatment for PTSD is begun only after the survivor has been safely removed from a crisis situation. The aim of treatment is to reduce symptoms by encouraging the affected person to recall the event, to express feelings, and to gain some sense of mastery over the experience. Recovery seems to be quicker when the survivor feels safe or can get a feeling that there is a possibility that they can be safe.

It is reported that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is experienced by 10 million people in the US each year, and the good news is that a growing number of PTSD survivors are now receiving successful treatment as more is learned about the condition and multiple therapies are employed to ease its often devastating effects on health and quality of life. Usually more than one type of treatment is necessary to recover and as recovery occurs those treatments need to be adjusted so that the survivor continues to recover, not get stuck in one place.

Survivors of trauma often have difficulty believing that they will ever recover. Very often, they feel on the edge and become obsessed with trying to stay safe. They can also be afraid to address what happened to them and many times family members are frequently fearful of examining the traumatic event as well and this is sort of a double trauma for the survivor. There have been a growing number of reports of PTSD among cancer survivors and their relatives and many times this goes completely undiagnosed. The likelihood of treatment success is increased when these other conditions are appropriately diagnosed and treated as well.

Simple Depression Treatment Based on Dream Therapy

Depression can easily be cured through dream therapy because it is only a first indication that there is a certain abnormality in the functioning of your psyche. Depression is not a mental illness in its initial stages. It is in fact the beginning of a process of consciousness that can have positive results.

However, depression can also become a serious mental illness, and lead you to worse mental disorders, like manic depression or neurosis. This is why you must urgently follow psychotherapy if you are depressed. Otherwise, the consciousness given by your depression will have negative results, while it should help you become more intelligent thanks to the vision you’ll have.

When you are depressed you have a normal reaction before the horrors of human life. You feel depressed because your soul is shocked with all the contradictions you find.

There are numerous dangers threatening your happiness all the time.

Besides this recognition, many bad memories from your sad life story marked by a series of traumas increase your fears. You feel that there is no meaning on pursuing happiness in life.

This is a wise comprehension. When you understand the difficulties of life and you face existential problems that have no solution, you stop being a child. You stop believing in magical ways to get what you want.

Finding happiness in life is a very difficult matter. There are too many obstacles and enemies constantly preventing you from achieving your goals.

You may also realize that you made many serious mistakes in the past, which cannot be corrected now. You feel imprisoned into a labyrinth. You keep finding walls.

I was in such situation when I was a young mother. At that time, I had no money to pay for a long treatment with a psychoanalyst, and I had to be with my baby all the time. Fortunately, I found salvation by learning how to translate the meaning of dreams according to Carl Jung’s method of dream interpretation.

You are luckier than me because you can learn the complicated method of dream interpretation discovered by Jung through my simplification, and find a simple depression treatment you can easily follow alone. I had to look for solutions during many years before being able to simplify everything.

Your doctor is the wise unconscious mind that produces your dreams. Once you learn the unconscious language, you’ll discover the hidden messages contained in all dream images.

Here are the first steps you should follow:

* Keep a dream journal, writing down all your dreams. Even if you cannot remember all dream scenes, write down whatever you remember from a dream. A single dream image can already give you important information, especially if it is an important dream symbol, like the snake.

The snake represents a bad event that will put an end to one of your mistakes. It works like punishment, correcting your behavior. However, if you’ll follow the unconscious guidance in your own dreams, you won’t need to pass trough a bitter experience in order to stop making a certain mistake.

* Keep a diary. Write down what happens to you every day, so that you may relate this information to the information you have in your dreams. The unconscious mind talks about your daily problems in dreams, besides criticizing your behavior.

* Read my lessons and translate the meaning of the dream images. First of all, look for the known symbols in each dream. Important dream symbols like the water, the airplane, or the cat, will help you understand the basic unconscious messages contained in the dream scenes.

Too much water in a dream represents superficiality and lack of faith. However, if you see only a few drops of water in a dream, water represents forgiveness.

When you fly by plane, this means that you have attained a higher level of knowledge after understanding something very important in life.

The cat shows you that you are being foolish for some reason. You are not seeing something obvious.

Now, when you put everything together, and you pay attention to the dream story, you understand the unconscious guidance.

For example, if you saw a flood in a dream, then you tried to travel by plane but the airplane couldn’t fly, and in the end of the dream you saw a cat, you will already have important information.

The unconscious mind is showing you that your lack of faith (too much water) is preventing you from understanding something very important in life (you cannot fly by plane). You must smarten up (cat) and do something obvious that will help you finally solve your problems.

Now, you have to relate this information to your life, since you are the dreamer. Let’s suppose that you are depressed because you have no friends, and you keep fighting with everyone you know.

The unconscious messages show you that you are depressed because you don’t believe in salvation (flood). Without believing that your existence has a superior meaning, you cannot face all life challenges with courage. You should believe that you will find the support you need.

On the other hand, you must understand something very important that you don’t want to understand (so that you may travel by plane and attain a higher level of knowledge). You have to abandon old ideas and stop following false concepts.

You also have to stop being immature (cat). Pay attention to all the possibilities you have at your disposal.

If you want to make many friends and stop having social conflicts, you must trust God’s wisdom, transform your personality, and become more intelligent.

The unconscious mind shows you in dreams the solutions you cannot discover alone. You learn how to solve your problems, one by one. Then, you’ll finally find the happiness you pursue.

This is how dream therapy works. This is a very simple depression treatment because you are guided by the unconscious mind. You are not alone, trying to figure out what to do in order to solve your problems, without knowing where to begin from. The unconscious mind shows you exactly what you have to do, and how you can achieve your goals.