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The Reality of Agoraphobia in Teenagers

Alexis is a student, who loves to advocate for mental health rights, animal rights, and etc..

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Mental Health has become a more important topic in the past few years, especially amongst teenagers and children. I've struggled with mental health conditions myself and one of those conditions is Agoraphobia. You must be dying to know what Agoraphobia is? Is it a phobia of spiders, clowns, or animals? No. Is it a phobia of heights, food, or colors? No.

Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder, coming from the Greek word, Agora. It translate to "fear of assembly", "open space", "outside", and etc.. For me, Agoraphobia means the fear of fear. The fear of being in situations that cause fear. Open spaces and crowded spaces are the situations that make me freak out.

People often ask me, "Why? There's nothing scary about that place..."

For you, it might seem like a normal task, but when I'm inside - hell breaks loose. My mind loses control, I feel lightheaded, my throat tightens, my mouth becomes so dry that water and gum doesn't even help, I feel like everything around is going slower, my sensory processing system is going haywire (the lights feel brighter, the sounds around me seem louder, etc..), I become so restless that my legs hurt, I run to the closest exits, and sometimes suffer from Derealization/Depersonalization.

It's hard to go through this during your teenage years. You're not sure if you're actually normal because you see other kids around you and they can do these things without having a breakdown. There have been times where I pushed fellow teenagers away because I was so scared. I would get invited to places and I knew I couldn't handle it.

Agoraphobia affects 5% of the population, according to scientific research, however - there's definitely more people out there. I used to think it was just apart of my panic disorder or that I was being punished. I never could understand why situations like Kroger, Walmart, Malls, and etc.. freaked me out until I connected the dots. They all were open spaces, had bright lights, and had tons of people. That's a VERY COMMON trigger for people with panic attacks but when it affects you DAILY, that's when it becomes Agoraphobia.

The weird thing about Agoraphobia is that you DO want to push yourself but it's so hard. I have a wide-range of imagination and can overthink scenarios in my head VERY QUICKLY. I'm not even terrified of these places but I'm afraid of the outcome or what could come. I'm sure many Agoraphobes can relate to that feeling.

Agoraphobia isn't just open spaces. It can be the fear of public spaces, fear of leaving the house, or even just crowded places. I've met people online who have a similar aspect but different situations bother them.

Due to my Agoraphobia and other mental health concerns, I pulled out of public high school and began to attend a private online school. It has been easier and I've definitely improved but it's a hard process. Agoraphobia is hardly spoken about in the mental health community, along with other conditions. We need to keep spreading awareness about mental health. To learn more about mental health, visit the following sites:

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml

https://www.nami.org/Home

https://www.mentalhealth.com/

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Alexis Haufler