During the Covid-19 Pandemic, Beware of Agoraphobia: Anxiety Disorders in the Form of Fear of Crowds

It’s been more than a year since we have been struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic, which has skyrocketed the number of positive patients in the world. I don’t know how long this situation will end.

All people are advised to stay at home, all outdoor activities are limited, and not to create large crowds. All of this aims to prevent exposure and reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Most people have adapted and are used to doing all activities at home, including work and school which are done virtually.

Meanwhile, the Covid-19 pandemic also has an impact on the mental health of people who already have anxiety disorders, have a level of fear of crowds, or are afraid to interact with other people, as well as people who previously did not have mental health issues.

“Isolation from the Covid-19 pandemic has certainly amplified anxiety disorders for people who have agoraphobia, separation anxiety or social anxiety disorders,” said Jenny Yip, PsyD, clinical psychologist and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. Los Angeles, quoted from The Healthy.

Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder in which a person fears and avoids places that can make him panic, feel trapped, helpless, and embarrassed. Usually they are afraid of places that involve a lot of people, such as at the mall, when using public transportation, and others.

“When we peek outside, it seems like it takes a lot more energy to actually go out and do something,” said dr. Carole Lieberman, MD, MPH psychiatrist in Berverly Hills, California.

According to Healthline , people who suffer from agoraphobia often experience panic attacks, such as a very fast heart rate and nausea when they are in a stressful situation. Other symptoms include chest pain, feeling dizzy, short of breath, shaking, sweating, diarrhea, numbness, and a tingling sensation.

Then why do they suffer from agoraphobia?

It turns out that there are several causes of someone suffering from agoraphobia, namely a history of depression, a history of physical or sexual abuse, substance abuse problems, heredity or a family member suffering from agoraphobia, the presence of other phobias such as social phobia, and the presence of other types of anxiety disorders.

To treat this phobia a number of different treatments are carried out as it will require several treatment methods.

Therapy

Psychotherapy

In this therapy, people with agoraphobia will be given the opportunity to talk about their fears and problems that make them afraid of crowds. For more leverage, psychotherapy is often combined with drugs. This therapy can be stopped if the patient has been able to overcome his fears and anxiety.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most common form of psychotherapy used by people with agoraphobia, because it can help understand the feelings and views associated with agoraphobia. In this therapy, you will be taught how to deal with stressful situations by replacing negative thoughts with healthy thoughts so you can regain a sense of control in your life.

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy can help in overcoming fears by gently and slowly being confronted with the feared situation or place. Over time, people with agoraphobia will decrease in fear and anxiety.

Drugs

To relieve and help reduce the symptoms that occur when agoraphobia strikes, select selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor drugs such as paroxetine (Paxil) or fluoxetine (Prozac).

Then selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors such as venlafaxine (Effexor) or duloxetine (Cymbalta ), tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil) or nortriptyline (Pamelor) , and anti-anxiety medications such as alprazolam (Xanax) or clonazepam. You should only take these drugs with a doctor’s advice and prescription.

This condition will indeed seem complicated during a pandemic. After all aren’t we supposed to avoid crowds to interact with crowds? If needed, stay careful and keep applying health protocols, ladies !

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