Woman at home looking through window blinds to the outside world

The End of Quarantine Could Reveal Agoraphobia

The novel coronavirus has caused uncertainty, fear, and isolation throughout the country. There’s no doubt that people of all kinds are facing mental health struggles resulting from the virus, shutdown, and economic impacts. As governments lift restrictions on some businesses and gatherings, we may see a spike in the number of people dealing with agoraphobia.

This misunderstood and serious mental illness can be challenging even in a pre-COVID world. As the rules about social distancing and the risks of COVID-19 change, it’s essential to keep an eye out for signs of agoraphobia in yourself and your loved ones.

What is Agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia is a mental illness that causes people to have excessive anxiety in response to places in which they have little control. Most often, people with agoraphobia fear crowded, enclosed, public, or open spaces. These fears may specifically include public transportation, long lines, or busy streets.

People with agoraphobia have extremely fearful reactions to such situations. Some people have panic attacks as well. It’s important to note that agoraphobia is a nervous reaction that is not healthy. For example, being worried about going outside in the middle of a severe storm is not agoraphobia. However, having a panic attack in response to waiting in line at the grocery store may be a sign of this disorder.

What are the Risk Factors for Agoraphobia?

People from all backgrounds can develop agoraphobia. However, some people have a higher chance of developing this disorder. Your risk may be increased if you:

  • Live with another anxiety disorder
  • Have a biological relative who has the disorder
  • Are a woman
  • Are under the age of 35
  • Experience a traumatic or stressful event, such as the death of a loved one
  • Have panic attacks and respond with avoidance

Having one or more of these risk factors does not guarantee that someone will develop agoraphobia.

Could Ending Quarantine Trigger Agoraphobia?

During the height of the COVID-19 wave in the United States, it would not be considered agoraphobia to worry about being in public or to stay at home as much as possible. Instead, these are reasonable measures in response to a real threat.

However, as the danger lessens, some people may struggle to let go of this fear. It could rise to the level of agoraphobia if someone feels extreme panic in public.

Should I Seek Help?

Anyone experiencing emotional imbalance or anxiety in response to the pandemic should seek help. Even as restrictions lift, many people will struggle to get back to normal life or recover from disorders they developed during the quarantine. Our online psychiatry and therapy appointments can help. See a licensed clinical professional from the comfort of your home to get assistance during this troubling time.