Monday, June 26, 2006

What Does Love Have to Do With Agoraphobia?

I just read an interesting few paragraphs in a boook this afternoon that I have to share. I was reading Karen Williams' book entitled "How to Help Your Loved One Recover from Agoraphobia" and I came across a part where she writes about the power of being loved by others and loving yourself when it comes to recovering from agoraphobia.

I thought this was interesting because I attribute a great deal of my recovery from agoraphobia to changing the nature of my close relationships - from relationships based on fear (of disapproval, rejection, etc...) to relationships based on unconditional love.

To read more, go to the Agoraphobia Resource Center website, click on "articles" and look for one called "The Power of Love for Healing Agoraphobia."

Sunday, June 25, 2006

EMDR Treatment for Agoraphobia

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (or EMDR) is a relatively new form of therapy, sometimes used to treat agoraphobia, that focuses on removing emotional triggers associated with childhood abuse or trauma.

In other words, if you have experienced a traumatic event that has caused you to associate fear or anxiety with a certain place, this therapy focuses on removing that fearful or anxious association.

Though some mental health professionals claim that they have had positive results using EMDR to help agoraphobics, there is not a body of research to support its effectiveness with agoraphobia.

EMDR is only recommended after the more proven cognitive-behavioral approaches have been tried or in cases where agoraphobia develops from post-traumatic stress.

Who Should Try EMDR for Agoraphobia?

EMDR is only recommended after the more proven cognitive-behavioral approaches have been tried or in cases where agoraphobia develops from post-traumatic stress.

For some individuals, a traumatic life event such as an auto accident, mugging, rape, abuse, or childhood trauma can lead to the development of agoraphobia. Usually the person will develop another disorder first, like post-traumatic stress disorder.

After having some panic attacks associated with the initial disorder (at the scene of the trauma in some cases), the person develops fearful associations with certain places or situations. At some point, the fear generalizes to all places and situations except for a safe place (or a few safe places) and that's when the person has developed agoraphobia.

Individuals who develop agoraphobia in this manner are the most likley to benefit from EMDR.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Good Quote for Agoraphobia

Good Quote for Agoraphobia:

"Being defeated is a temporary condition - giving up is what makes it permanent."

- Anonymous

Monday, June 19, 2006

What is Agoraphobia?

What is Agoraphobia?

Recently, I have been writing articles for e-zines on the topic of agoraphobia. I am fast confirming a previous notion I had that there are not many people writing internet articles on agoraphobia and there are many people who don't know what agoraphobia even is.

That's funny to me because the average person is familiar with most phobias. Take for instance, social phobia, claustrophobia, arachnophobia, etc. Also, the average person has heard of most anxiety disorders. I mean who hasn't heard of panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder?

So why isn't agoraphobia getting its share of the ink? Even at the local bookstore, there are many self-help books with anxiety disorder and panic disorder in the title, but often there are few or no books specifically dedicated to agoraphobia. If you are an agoraphobic you have to read about your disorder in sections of these other books.

Well, I came up with a theory as to why agoraphobia seems to be a dark horse among anxiety disorders and phobias. It may well be because it doesn't fit neatly under either category, nor is easily recognizable by its name.

Among the anxiety disorders, agoraphobia is the only one without "disorder" in the name.

Among the phobias, agoraphobia puts a word in front of "phobia" that no one has ever heard of (unless you are Greek). What exactly does it mean to be afraid of the "agora."Most of us would get that hyrdophobia is fear of water or that insectophobia is fear of insects - but agoraphobia - that leaves a lot of people guessing.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Why Cue-controlled Relaxation Works

To many people with agoraphobia, learning to relax on cue sounds too simple to be possible. However, this technique is based upon a well-known phenomenon called “classical conditioning.” In everyday language, classical conditioning is just teaching yourself to respond to a cue in a certain way. This is done by pairing that cue with something that causes the response you want.

Need an example?

Classical conditioning emerged from an experiment done by Russian Psychologist, Ivan Pavlov, in the 1890’s. Pavlov trained a dog to salivate at the sound of a bell. He did this by ringing a bell right before the dog received food. After doing this enough times, the dog started salivating at the sound of the bell because it associated the bell with food.

In the same way, you can teach yourself to relax when you say a cue word, provided you learn to associate that word with a deep state of relaxation through repeated practice.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Cue-controlled Relaxation for Agoraphobia

Learning to relax on cue will help you stop the panic attacks that come with agoraphobia.

Two skills are fundamental to learning to relax on cue; deep breathing and deep muscle relaxation. To develop a relaxation cue, you will use both of these skills to put your body in a state of complete calm while in a safe, non-threatening environment. As you are reaching a complete state of calm in your body, you will slowly repeat any word you choose to be your key word. For example, your cue word might simply be “relax.”

After practicing deep breathing and deep muscle relaxation on a regular basis while repeating a cue word, your mind will learn to associate the cue word with a profound state of calm and relaxation. Then, when you feel anxiety or panic coming on, you can just speak your cue word and your body will start to relax.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

What Does Pavlov's Dog Have to Do with Agoraphobia?

Remember Pavlov's dog from psychology class. Just in case you missed it, this is the dog that salivated every time it heard a bell. This is because the owner (Psychologist, Ivan Pavlov) rang a bell just before feeding his dog so many times that the dog associated the bell with the food.

Well, some psychologists think that this process called "classical conditioning" accounts for the development of agoraphobia.

I read a journal article that supports this idea. This study found the presence of panic disorder and agoraphobia to be about 20% in heart patients with pacemakers (which is way above the normal population). When the patients with panic disorder and agoraphobia were interviewed, it seemed like they had been conditioned just like Pavlov's dog.

They got anxious about shocks from the pacemaker and later associated that anxiety with the places or situations they were in when they got shocked.

You can read more details about this study on My Agoraphobia Resource Center Wesite (see link on the sidebar).

Monday, June 12, 2006

My Friend the Pharmacist

My best friend, Don, is a pharmacist. He is mentioned a few places on the Agoraphobia Resource Center Website.

I grew up with Don here in the Fresno, California area and have known him since the fourth grade. We went to grade school, junior high, high school, and college together. We have played together on school basketball teams and shared an apartment when we went to University of California at Davis. Though Don does not have an anxiety disorder, he has known me through all of my experience with agoraphobia.

After college, Don went to pharmacy school and became a pharmacist. Actually, he is a pharmacy manager now. Any time I have a question about a medication I am on, I give Don a call.Don has been a supportive friend to me for most of my life, and he and his wife have encouraged me in writing my first e-book and doing a website on Agoraphobia.

Just as Don has helped me, Don would like to help you.There are a lot of doctors out there that don't know that much about psychological disorders and are not as careful as a mental health professional might be about what they prescribe for anxiety. Don would like to be a resource for you on my website, and is here to answer your questions about medication.

Even if you are going to see a psychologist or psychiatrist - you are the one who knows your body - and you should be an active participant in any decision made about the medications you take.

I know from knowing Don that it is good to have a friend who is a pharmacist to discuss your medication options with. That's what Don will do for you. If you have questions about medications you are taking for anxiety or agoraphobia, please feel free to email my friend, Don, at:

Its good to learn all you can about any medication you even consider taking for agoraphobia.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Agoraphobia Treatment Guide

I have just posted my first e-book, "Goodbye Anxiety" on the Agoraphobia Resource Center Website. This is a book about my own recovery in which I share strategies to help you that are based on my personal experience. Now I am working on a second e-book called "The Agoraphobia Treatment Guide." This will be a book to help you learn everything you need to know about agoraphobia to make informed decisions about your recovery.

Below, in quotes, is the introduction for the book that I just wrote tonight.

"If you have agoraphobia then you have probably experienced something like this:

You start feeling uneasy a lot of the time but you don’t know why. You feel a little dizzy sometimes, a little lightheaded, or it gets just a little bit harder to breathe. Sometimes your heart seems to be beating just a little bit faster or you feel like you are sweating a little bit more than usual. For as long as you can, you try to ignore these symptoms.

Then the day comes when you can’t ignore them anymore. That’s because they hit you all at once and at a much higher degree of intensity. You feel like your heart is about to pound right through your chest like a hammer. You are literally gasping for breath. Your body shakes all over and your hands and feet get cold and clammy. Your vision blurs and you get so dizzy and lightheaded you are afraid that you might pass out. You feel like your body is truly in danger, as if you are having a heart attack or stroke. The longer these dreadful symptoms persist, the more you become afraid that you may die.

Not knowing what is happening to you or why, you feel the urge to run but don’t know where to run to. Maybe you call someone for help. Maybe you call 911 and end up in the emergency room. Whatever the case, when you leave the place where you felt these terrible sensations, your body relaxes and you feel a whole lot better. If you went to the emergency room, they tell you there is nothing wrong. Though you are temporarily relieved, in the back of your mind lurks the fear of having another unexplainable experience just like this one.

Days, weeks, or months may pass, but eventually your worst nightmare comes true. All of these dreadful symptoms hit you once again when you are least expecting it, forcing you to flee to a “safer’ place. You start avoiding the places where you have these unexplainable experiences, but at the same time you have these unexplainable experiences in more and more places. The list of places you fear going gets longer and longer as the list of places you feel safe gets shorter with each passing day.

Eventually your world narrows to the point that you have to admit to yourself that something isn’t quite right. You consult a doctor and after examining you, the doctor assures you that nothing is wrong. Perplexed, you see another doctor for a second opinion and then another. Every doctor tells you the same thing, that there is nothing wrong with you. Maybe one or two of them tell you that you are just experiencing the symptoms of stress and to take it easy for a few days. To you, your symptoms seem like more than that. Taking it easy a few days doesn’t do the trick. You continue to have these debilitating episodes of unexplainable symptoms that scare you out of your mind.

You world gets smaller and smaller. You go fewer and fewer places. Eventually you only go out of the house when you absolutely have to.

Finally, after a desperate search for answers, you find a doctor that gives you a diagnosis. You find out you have agoraphobia and the unexplainable experiences are called panic attacks. The best the doctor can do for you is to prescribe some pills to make you feel better temporarily. Though the pills make you feel relaxed, you know you can’t stay on pills forever. You need to find a way to stop having panic attacks, to get out of your house again, to go to work or school again, and to enjoy a normal life.

Not knowing how or where to begin the recovery process, you log onto the internet and type “agoraphobia” into Google. There are hundreds and thousands of references to agoraphobia but none of them give you the information you really need. Clicking through the agoraphobia links that come up, you find definitions, bits of information here and there, a discussion board or two, and some lists of treatments with a line or two about each one. If you are lucky, you find a whole paragraph. After surfing the internet, your questions are left mostly unanswered.

You want to know things like:

How do I know that what I have is really agoraphobia?

Do I need to seek professional help or is this something I can work through with a good self-help program?

If I choose to seek professional help, what type of professional should I see? A counselor, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist?

What credentials should my therapist have?

What questions should I ask the therapist when I get in the office?

What treatment options should I discuss with the therapist?

Are there some effective treatments for agoraphobia that are supported by research?

How long should I expect to be in therapy and how do I know if it is working so I don’t waste my money?

Are there some good books I could be reading that would help me?

Would a support group help, and if so are there some criteria I should use to choose one?

What are my chances of recovery? Do people really get well from agoraphobia?

What causes agoraphobia anyway and how many people suffer from it?

Are there some natural remedies that I might try in place of prescription medications?

These are the kinds of things you will want to know if you have agoraphobia. However, you will have to do a lot of homework to find answers to all of these questions. When you have agoraphobia or any anxiety disorder for that matter, it can be hard to focus on undertaking a major research project when you are so desperate for symptom relief.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone did all this homework for you?

Wouldn’t it even be nicer if that person were someone who recovered from agoraphobia and who had a background in psychology also?

Well, that’s why I wrote the Agoraphobia Treatment Guide.

My name is Stephen Price. I have masters degrees in psychology and counseling and have published original research on the topic of anxiety. I also know exactly what it is like to find out you have agoraphobia and not know where to turn. That’s why I have done your homework for you. I have compiled information from a variety of sources to offer you everything you need to know to get started on the road to recovery. The Agoraphobia Treatment Guide will answer all of the questions listed above and more.

Basically, I wrote the book I wish I had when I first got agoraphobia. Reading this book would have cut at least a year off the time it took me to recover.

In the agoraphobia treatment guide, I will help you understand agoraphobia and consider your treatment options from an educated perspective in easy-to-understand language.

I will help you know if you really have agoraphobia, what might have caused it, and what you can do about it. I will give you the knowledge you need to decide if you need professional help or can recover on your own. I will also give you sound criteria for choosing the best therapist for you should you seek professional help.

What’s more, I will explain every type of therapy that is commonly used to treat agoraphobia and tell you what current research says about the effectiveness of each type of treatment. I will also provide you with information about all the different types of medication that are used for anxiety and panic, giving you the information you need to determine which medication you might talk to your doctor about.

Also, I will help you save money by warning you what to watch out for in therapy. I’ll not only tell you what types of therapy have been proven most effective in research, I will also tell you about how to know if a particular therapy is working for you and how long it should take for you to start seeing results.

After reading the Agoraphobia Treatment Guide, you will be able to approach recovery with the confidence of knowing your treatment options and have informed discussions with mental health professionals about your condition.

In addition to helping you understand the possible courses of treatment for agoraphobia, I’ve included three bonus sections. The first bonus section will help your friends and family members understand how to be a good support people during your recovery. The second will give you a list for further reading that includes book reviews of what I consider to be the best books for agoraphobia sufferers on the market, including the books I used in my own recovery. Finally, a third bonus section will include scripts to help you practice deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and positive visualization on your own at home.

No one resource could better prepare you to make informed decisions about your recovery. I have written this book for you. I wish you well on your road to recovery."

Now its time to get to work on writing the actual book.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Do You Know Anyone In Greensboro, NC?

I am looking for someone in Greensboro, North Carolina that might be a friend to someone who is housebound with agoraphobia.

If you know anyone, please let me know.

Email me at:

or comment on this blog