agoraphobia symptoms

Agoraphobia Symptoms and Treatment

Agoraphobia represents a fear of situations where feelings of entrapment, helplessness, or embarrassment might arise. The person avoids such situations. Agoraphobia may develop secondary to panic disorder. The person may be completely housebound or travel outside the home only with their "safe person."

Rumination: Nature and Therapy

With rumination, one central thought or string of thoughts repeats in your head over and over and over again. You are not simply a detached observer to this process. Instead, you are deeply involved with the thoughts that are repeating. The thoughts can reflect intense stress, and they may be accompanied by the belief that obsessing about your problems will eventually produce a solution.


You may have heard the old saying “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” Life has a pretty steep learning curve. Your mistakes are best framed as course corrections, an attitude that keeps perfection where it belongs, as an aspirational value. Perfectionism, in contrast, represents the tyranny of the ideal, a dictator who demands absolute obedience, who tolerates no deviations, no individuality, who mercilessly heaps shame onto anyone who falls short of the highest expectations. Perfectionism is the opposite acceptance, because it refuses to acknowledge mitigating factors and insists rigidly that you must obey.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorders differ in both their breadth and their intensity. Panic attacks are notoriously intense. In contrast, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) probably has the most breadth. The name suggests anxiety about many different events or situations or activities. Anxiety in GAD takes the form of “apprehensive expectation,” or worry. That’s the cardinal symptom of GAD. The other symptoms are restlessness, fatigue, concentration issues, irritability, body tension, and sleep issues.

Strategic Procrastination with the Eisenhower Productivity Matrix

The Eisenhower Productivity Matrix was developed by President Eisenhower as a means of getting things done. The matrix is formed by two dimensions: Urgent versus No urgent and Important versus Not Important. Importance is big picture stuff, meaning important in the big picture of your life. Urgent is usually smaller picture stuff, upon which the bigger picture often depends. Like paying your bills. By crossing two dimensions of urgency and importance, Eisenhower created the matrix that bears his name.

Role of Mindfulness in Recovery from Procrastination

Procrastination is sustained by avoidance, a problem of emotion regulation. Avoidance literally constitutes a refusal to feel uncomfortable negative emotions. Avoidance need not be conscious, though it may be, with the result that procrastination is both an event and a lifestyle. Procrastinators seek to shut down awareness of their avoidance in order to minimize discomfort. Treatment requires understanding what emotions are being avoided, and why. This journey is not so much about taking responsibility as it is about awareness.

Understanding Procrastination

The fundamental mechanism that drives procrastination is the same mechanism that drives so much of the anxiety disorders, notably the negative reinforcement of avoidance. With procrastination, avoidance becomes so powerful that work goes unfinished, and obligations go unmet. This leads to crisis after crisis and deadlines passed and failures mount.

Diagnosis of Agoraphobia

The DSM-5 notes (p. 218) that “the essential feature of agoraphobia is marked, or intense, fear or anxiety triggered by real or imagined exposure to a wide variety of situations.” Five situations are listed that typically evoke anxiety: Using public transportation, open spaces, enclosed spaces, standing in line, crowds, being alone away from home. These situations evoke feelings of vulnerability, being helpless, or embarrassed.

What are the Symptoms of a Panic Attack?

A panic attack is a surge of intense, overwhelming anxiety. Symptoms come on suddenly and usually peak within ten minutes. With panic, the fight-or-flight system has been triggered, preparing the person for emergency action. The result is both intense anxiety and physiological arousal. Bodily symptoms include rapid heart rate, chest pain, choking, dizziness, sweating, nausea, and trembling. Psychological symptoms include fear of going crazy, fear of dying, and depersonalization or derealization.

How To Stop a Panic Attack: Grounding Techniques

Grounding techniques work by redirecting attention from internal to external. Anything systematic that can absorb attention can function as a grounding exercise. When you’re anxious, when a panic attack seems imminent, your mind is totally absorbed into fantasies of threat. Maybe you can’t concentrate well enough to decatastrophize, but you can always detach from your catastrophic fantasies and move your attention onto a completely different subject.