Friday, July 28, 2006

The First Step to Offering Good Support for Someone with Agoraphobia – Learning About the Disorder

Besides offering someone with agoraphobia your unconditional acceptance, a second vital key to offering good support is increasing your own knowledge and understanding.

In other words: Read all you can about agoraphobia and listen to the person who is suffering about their experience.

One of the problems people suffering from agoraphobia face when trying to find good support from others is that too many people overestimate their psychological knowledge. When I first decided to study psychology in college I had people say to me, "Isn't psychology all just common sense?" No one ever said that to my roommates who were studying bio-chemistry - yet psychological phenomena are just as complex.

If you had cancer or heart disease none of your friends or family members would presume to know what you should do for treatment. When you have an anxiety disorder like agoraphobia, everyone seems to think they know what you should do.

Psychology is not all common sense. Anxiety disorders like agoraphobia are just as complex as any medical problem. That is why it is important to read all you can to understand your friend or loved one with agoraphobia.

People with agoraphobia are likely to behave in ways that are hurtful or open to misinterpretation if you don't know what they are experiencing. For example, my family used to accuse me of not wanting to go to school, trying to mess up family vacations, or in general, thinking only myself and my own feelings. If you know someone with agoraphobia, chances are that you have probably thought of them as selfish or thoughtlesss at some point.

However, the more my family read up on agoraphobia - the more they realized that I wasnt trying to skip school or do anything intentionally to make the family miserable. They realized that I was suffering from a real disorder and wanted to recover, just as if I had been sick with cancer or a heart disease.

People with agoraphobia are famous for coming up with excuses to get out of things that scare them. They are also famous for becoming self-absorbed, in tune with their own emotions and out of tune with the feelings of others. The more you read up on agoraphobia, the more you will understand the reasons why and be able to support your friend or loved one with care and patience.

I can say from personal experience, your friend or loved one with agoraphobia probably doesn't want to be selfish or do anything to upset you, frustrate you, or hurt you. They are just sick and need you understanding and support to get better.

Remember, almost no one wakes up one day and decides they want to screw up their life. Most people with agoraphobia really do want to get better. They just need a little live and support from a few understanding people.

If you read up on agoraphobia - a little knowledge and understanding will go a long way in supporting your friend or loved one in their recovery from agoraphobia.


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