What Are The Symptoms Of A Fear Of Leaving The House
A fear of leaving the house is a powerful fear. The fear is so powerful that many people spend months and sometimes years without stepping outside their front door or off of their own property. Many cases reach this severity with time, but there are also more mild cases in which a person is capable of leaving the house, but only does so when it is absolutely necessary. This fear causes many difficult symptoms, like:
- Severe anxiety
- Feelings of embarrassment and shame
- Avoiding leaving the house until absolutely necessary
- Going without many necessities for long periods of time
- Avoiding responsibilities that involve leaving the house, like work and family gatherings
- Fear of open spaces and being outside
- Fear of public places, like parks, train and bus stations, stores, etc.
How Agoraphobia Is Diagnosed
It typically takes many years for a person to develop a fear of leaving the house. A person who has a fear of leaving the house will be diagnosed with either Agoraphobia; or Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia. This is because agoraphobia typically develops as a result of panic disorder, but recently has been deemed appropriate for a standalone diagnosis in some cases, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Health Disorders, 5th Edition. If a person who is afraid to leave the house is appropriate for diagnosis, he or she will meet the following diagnostic criteria:
Anxious About Leaving Your Home Here’s How To Push Past Those Fears
Were here to guide you through the coronavirus lockdown. for daily tips, advice, how-tos and escapism.
Its understandable you might feel anxious and even fearful of leaving the house as lockdown restrictions begin to lift particularly as the message stay home, stay safe has been drummed into us for weeks on end.
As part of HuffPost UKs coronavirus coverage, we asked readers: How are you feeling? One common theme among the hundreds of responses weve received so far was peoples very real fears as things slowly return to normal particularly when others arent following the guidelines.
If I ever do leave the house, I feel so anxious, said one reader, especially as some people seem to think its back to normal life and not adhering to the 2 metres away rule, which makes me angry.
Another said: Having to go outside and be around others when theyre not social distancing gives me levels of anxiety I have never experienced. It sucks.
Psychotherapist Mike Ward, who runs the London and Hampshire Anxiety Clinic, estimates that 25 to 30% of his clients are expressing concerns about leaving their homes to go back to work or outside to the shops, after becoming used to the level of social distancing weve been following since Boris Johnson introduced the national lockdown two months ago.
Some feel very much safe living with the changes rather than going back out to uncertainty again, says Ward, who is not surprised that people feel this way.
Don’t Miss: Does Celine Dion Have An Eating Disorder
Cut Yourself Some Slack
Its all too easy to start beating ourselves up when we find things difficult that everyone else seems to be able to do without a second thought.
Firstly, we have no idea whats going on in other peoples lives. People struggling often look just like people who arent struggling. There are likely to be other people on the streets we walk down who also find leaving the house to be a challenge.
Secondly, we have an illness. Parts of this illness can make it hard to leave the house. Others, who arent unwell, dont have that layer of stuff to contend with when going outside. Its not our fault that were ill. We didnt choose it.
Leaving the house can be incredibly difficult and thats okay! We can only ever do our best and being kind to ourselves is will make tackling these things much easier than being mean to ourselves.
Please help us to;help others and share this post, you never know who might need it.
When we are living with social anxiety, it makes socialising really difficult. We might find ourselves feeling very isolated and lonely. Loneliness is damaging to our overall health. Feeling connected and having a sense of belonging are needs we all have. When we have social anxiety and feel lonely, the two can feel at odds with one another with conflicting needs and feelings.
What Are The Consequences Associated With A Fear Of Leaving The House
Being afraid to leave home has a major impact on a persons life. A home is meant to be a safe secure place to rest, make happy memories, and rejuvenate after a long day of being out and about. However, with a fear of leaving the house, the walls become a persons whole world, and sometimes even a tomb that an affected person cannot escape. There are many consequences that come with a fear of leaving the house, like:
- Loss of employment or financial security
- Loss of friends and social life
- Inability to run errands
- Health issues, like malnutrition, obesity, poor diet, and a lack of Vitamin D
- Substance abuse and addiction
- Mental health disorders, like depression, panic disorder, personality disorders, or anxiety
The more time a person suffers from a fear of leaving his or her home the more severe the symptoms become. At first, the symptoms and consequences will be minor, like missing a social gathering here or there, or putting off responsibilities like grocery shopping until absolutely necessary. With time, these symptoms will become worse and have the potential to become so severe that the affected person may become afraid to even open the front and back door or windows.; That is why it is important to seek treatment as early as possible. With early intervention, the affected person will reduce the chances of developing an intense fear of leaving the house.
Don’t Miss: Can Depression Make You Lose Your Appetite
How Does Your Anxiety Manifest Itself Mentally
Its hard to think of how to describe this without sounding like Im just regurgitating the DSM. It varies with the type of anxiety Im experiencing.
In the most general sense, which I just consider my standard operating mode since I spend most days at least mildly anxious about something, the mental manifestations are things like difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, and obsessive thought loops of what if, what if, what if
When my anxiety gets more severe, Im unable to focus on anything except for the anxiety. I begin obsessing over all of the worst-case scenarios, no matter how irrational they may seem. My thoughts become all or nothing. Theres no gray area. A feeling of dread consumes me, and eventually Im certain that Im in danger and going to die.
At its worst, I just shut down and my mind goes blank. Its like I exit myself. I never know how long Ill be in that state. When I come back, I get anxious over the lost time, and the cycle continues.
How Does Your Anxiety Manifest Itself Physically
Physically, I have the usual symptoms: struggling to breathe , rapid heartbeat and palpitations, chest pain, tunnel vision, dizziness, nausea, shaking, sweating, muscle pain, and exhaustion paired with the inability to sleep.
I also have a habit of unknowingly digging my nails into my skin or biting my lips, oftentimes badly enough to draw blood. I also end up vomiting almost every time I begin feeling a hint of nausea.
Read Also: Can Depression Make You Lose Your Appetite
Chiraptophobia: Fear Of Being Touched
If being hugged or sitting close to another human being makes someone cringe, they probably suffer from chiratophobia. Some people have an especially intense form of this phobia and can’t even watch romantic movies because they can’t stand to watch people touching each other. People who suffer from this fear may also feel like their skin is burning if they watch other people display affection.
What Is Fear Of Going Out And Post
Fear of going out is quite simply the fear of leaving the house. In a pre-lockdown world, many experienced fear of missing out , on social events for example, now many of us are experiencing the opposite.;
Post-lockdown anxiety’, as it was recently dubbed by mental-health charity Anxiety UK , is the fear or worry of returning to normal life and lockdown measures relaxing.;
Despite the easing of the lockdown, a survey by Ipsos Mori showed that more than 60% of Britons are uncomfortable with the prospect of returning to bars and restaurants, using public transport or going to a large gathering, such as a sporting event.;
Even once lockdown measures loosen, it has been reported that over 40% would still be reluctant to go to the shops or send their children to school and over 30% would be worried about going to work or meeting friends. The survey data found that the vast majority of Britons have been complying with the lockdown not because they had been ordered to by the government, but because they do not want to catch or spread the virus.;
Anxiety UK has also reported that simply the idea of lifting or easing of COVID-19 restrictions has led to an increase in anxiety for almost 67% of the participants of their recent survey. Ultimately, mental health professionals are noticing that anxiety about leaving the house and life after lockdown has increased.;
Don’t Miss: Does Celine Dion Have An Eating Disorder
What Is Causing Fear Of Going Out During The Pandemic
Away from uncertainty and from the outside world, houses with disinfected surfaces have become a haven for many.
According to the CEO of Anxiety UK , after you’ve been inside for a long time, it can feel very strange to go outside and people could perhaps lose confidence in things they haven’t done in a while.;
Examples of using cramped public transport, face-to-face work meetings, have been suggested to be situations that might have people worried or stressed even before they’re to consider the risk of infection. Many have adjusted to working from home, as discussed in our recent article on the mental health benefits of working from home.;
Think About What You Can Control
The key when getting out and about is to look at what you can control, rather than focusing on what you cant. That might be your positioning on the pavement as you walk past other people you can choose to cross the road so you dont pass near to each other, and thats your choice. You can also control your own hygiene so continuing to wash your hands regularly, avoiding touching your face, and opting to wear a mask.
If you do feel ok going to the supermarket but you become fearful when other shoppers come too close, thats perfectly normal. There are two options, says Ward the first is to be assertive and tell the person to stay 2m away. The other is to choose a time when its quieter. These are both within your control.
Speaking to your employer about how you can return to work safely is a good way to take back some control if youre anxious about that, he adds. Employers have a duty to help employees feel safe and supported during this time.
You May Like: Can Depression Make You Lose Your Appetite
When Anxiety Makes It Difficult To Leave The House
For me, leaving the house can be a difficult situation.
There are times when Im getting ready to go out and I becomeovercome with anxiety.
I start to wonder if I need to go out. I find myself weighing my options. I act as if the decision to leave the house is life-changing. But its not. And I know this.
For years, I thought the feelings I had when getting ready to go out were caused by anticipation. It wouldnt be until years later that I realized these feelings the nauseating and painful feelings were actually a result of anxiety.
I have anxiety when I leave the house. I have anxiety when Im not sure when Ill be home. I have anxiety when someone else drives and I cant escape when I want to get home.
Home. My safe place.
Its weird because Ive traveled and stayed in several hostels around the world. Ive moved away and lived in Japan, Greece and Vancouver. But no matter where I go, my accommodations become my safe place, even if its only for a day or two.
Home. Where I need to be. And its confusing because as a teenager, I always wanted to be out. My mother called me a social butterfly because I was always on the go. Yet, even as a teenager, I experienced these uncomfortable feelings. However, I never let them stop me from going out to a party or out with friends. I never wanted to miss out on anything.
I go out because anxiety wont win.
We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.
Thinkstock photo via;alexvav
Agoraphobia: Cause Treatment Anxiety
Agoraphobia is a profoundly complicated anxiety disorder. It’s a disorder that is also difficult to explain and is often caused by other anxiety disorders in several ways.
Agoraphobia is often misunderstood, as its definition can change depending on how someone is reacting to the environment around them. It may be defined as:
- Fear of being out in the open or in public.
- Fear of being in an area without an easy escape.
- Fear of being in unfamiliar places.
- Fear of leaving home.
Some people with agoraphobia struggle to go out in places like public parks. Others can only commute to familiar places, like home and work. Still, others struggle considerably to even leave their home at all. The first and second definition are the two most common definitions, but the latter two have been accepted as other consequences of agoraphobia.
Read Also: What Phobia Is Weather Related
What Kinds Of Things Trigger Your Anxiety
Im still working on identifying my triggers. It seems like once I figure out one, three more pop up. My main trigger is leaving my house. It is an everyday struggle to get to work. I usually start my day off with a panic attack instead of coffee.
Some other prominent triggers Ive noticed are a lot of sensory-related things , large crowds, waiting in lines, public transportation, grocery stores, escalators, eating in front of others, going to sleep, showers, and who knows how many more. There are other more abstract things that trigger me, such as not following a routine or ritual, my physical appearance, and other things I cant put words to yet.
Social Phobia: Fear Of People
Fear of being embarrassed in front of other people is called social phobia. In mild cases it may be experienced as the common fear of public speaking, but for some people this fear may extend to something as simple as writing a check in front of another person or eating in public. Social phobias are also called social anxiety disorders and they affect about 15 million American adults, men and women equally.
Recommended Reading: How Are Areas Of Depression Represented On A Topographic Map
How The Brain Works During A Phobia
Some areas of the brain store and recall dangerous or potentially deadly events.
If a person faces a similar event later on in life, those areas of the brain retrieve the stressful memory, sometimes more than once. This causes the body to experience the same reaction.
In a phobia, the areas of the brain that deal with fear and stress keep retrieving the frightening event inappropriately.
Researchers have found that phobias are
What Are The Symptoms Of Agoraphobia
According to the Mayo Clinic, agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by an intense fear an avoidance of situations that may cause you to feel trapped. Psychology Today notes that 1.7% of adults in the U.S. will be diagnosed with agoraphobia, with a fear of going outside as the most common symptom.
To be diagnosed with agoraphobia, elevated fear and anxiety must be experienced in at least two of these situations: using public transportation; being alone outside of your home; being in a crowd or standing in line; being in an open space; being in an enclosed area or place, Dr. Manly says.
The Mayo Clinic also states that symptoms of agoraphobia include constantly worrying about situations that trigger feelings of being trapped. Someone with agoraphobia may also require the support of another person to help them confront the object of their anxiety, Dr. Manly notes. For example, if the person is afraid of going to the grocery store, they may have a friend or family member accompany them. They also might need help planning an escape route, as if an agoraphobic is confronted with their trigger, a full panic attack may occur, says Dr. Manly. But, she adds, a panic attack is not necessary for a diagnosis of agoraphobia.
Don’t Miss: Depression And Appetite
How To Get Help For Agoraphobia
If youve noticed your fears are getting worse, continue to monitor how youre feeling to help better distinguish if the anxiety stemming from the pandemic is actually translating to agoraphobia. If you think it is, reach out to a mental health expert to discuss getting a formal diagnosis and a treatment plan. Agoraphobia can become very persistent and chronic, Dr. Manly says. If an individual does not seek immediate treatment, there is an increased likelihood that the situation will worsen over time.
Like GAD, agoraphobia is usually officially diagnosed after six months of the person having persistent symptoms, explains Dr. Manly. To find a therapist, Dr. Paul Greene, director of the Manhattan Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, suggests focusing on people who note that they specifically treat phobias. Seek a consultation with a mental health professional who has experience in cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety, he adds. CBT therapy can be particularly helpful for people with phobias because it helps identify the root of a fear and gives ways to cope when confronted with triggers.
Feeling anxious is a pretty universal experience right now, but only you can tell if that anxiety is becoming debilitating or seeming like its turning into a phobia. Reaching out to a mental health expert can help you get more insight into why you may be struggling and what you can do to feel better.