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.


At 2:49 AM, Anonymous Dawnita said...

Have experienced agoraphobia for over 25 years. In l988 I came across self-help hypnosis program "New Beginnings" on tape, by a Mr. Green. Was very successful & have had cause to use the tapes several times over since then. Since you are in CA I wonder if you ever heard of this program or Mr. Green, have lost address, specifics, very interested in contacting Mr Green, family members or associates. Appreciate your help & thanks for your professional interest and help with this debilitating anxiety disorder. April-Dawn MacKay, Boca Raton, Florida. I wish you much succcess.

At 9:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anxiety and panic attacks let me know what you think!


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