The COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges for the 1.3% of adults in the United States living with agoraphobia. At first glance, stay-at-home orders may seem like a dream-come-true for some people with agoraphobia. However, the uncertainty and fear can actually worsen symptoms.
If you or someone you love lives with agoraphobia, it’s important to learn more about how the pandemic can affect people with agoraphobia and what to do if you notice an increase in symptoms.
Why the Pandemic May Worsen Your Symptoms
One of the risk factors for developing agoraphobia in the first place is experiencing extreme stress. During the COVID-19 pandemic, people everywhere are doing just that. Not only can this cause new cases of agoraphobia, but it may also worsen symptoms in people who already lived with the disorder.
The real risk of leaving home can also worsen existing agoraphobia. One of the ways in which professionals normally treat agoraphobia is to expose the patient to their fears and help them realize that the danger isn’t real. However, when there is real, hidden danger in crowded and public places, it only confirms the person’s fears.
Finally, many people with agoraphobia rely on routines in order to get them out of their homes and keep symptoms to a minimum. COVID-19 has disrupted seemingly every facet of life, including these vital routines.
Managing Your Symptoms of Agoraphobia
Whether you already notice worsening symptoms or not, it’s important to do what you can to mitigate your symptoms. For some people, the symptoms won’t worsen until quarantine ends, but preparing now can help you ease into normal life instead.
Make sure to take care of yourself with steps like:
- Getting plenty of restful sleep
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet
- Getting regular exercise
- Taking any prescribed medications on time
- Checking in with a licensed therapist
- Using healthy coping mechanisms as soon as you notice anxiety
In some cases, people will need adjustments in their medications in order to get through this difficult time. Online psychiatry appointments can help.
Reach Out If You Need Help
Living with agoraphobia can make the pandemic and quarantine more difficult, but you do not have to go through it alone. Be sure to reach out to your support system when you need it. This system should include loved ones as well as skilled professionals. At PBC, we offer online psychiatry appointments and virtual therapy. You can get the support you need without leaving the safety of your home.