Agoraphobia: A consequence of Covid 19
6 July 2021
Ever since Covid 19 pandemic has hit the world, lockdown, quarantine and night curfews have become an integral part of our life.
“Living in isolation” has become the new reality for more than a year now and there is no denying that this isolation has impacted mental health of people to a great deal.
There has been a rapid increase in number of anxiety and depressive disorder cases since the first lockdown. Not only has the Covid 19 debacle rendered many jobless and financially drained, but also having minimal to no social interaction has led to many experiencing “fear of going out” medically termed as agoraphobia along with anxiety of getting back to normal life.
Agoraphobia is simply the fear of getting outside. Due to the covid 19 paranoia, many people are experiencing this FOGO (Fear of going out), wherein the very thought of leaving home triggers extreme fear.
With the recent vaccination drive and gradual easing of lockdown measures, many are now facing the post lockdown anxiety of getting back to the normal life.
What is causing this fear and anxiety?
After living in lockdown for more than a year it feels strange to go back outside and face the world. It has been ingrained in the minds of people, that social interactions, especially ones in confined areas, can be highly risky. In which case, the perfectly sanitised home with minimum contact with outside world feels safe and reassuring. With the current recurring waves of the covid infection and the constant mutant strains emerging around the world, this fear only keeps growing stronger.
But this FOGO is more than just the fear of getting Covid, it is a phycological condition of situational social anxiety. This anxiety is caused due to being “out of practice” of socialising with our fellow beings.
It is common to feel stressed about doing activities you haven`t done in a while. Post this pandemic, visualising using cramped public transport, having face-to-face meetings after a year of working from home, or attending a social event can make people feel very worried. Also, many have adjusted well to this solitary life and no longer feel the need of getting back to the pre covid level of socializing.
Phycologists believe that this fear and social anxiety is temporary and will subside slowly, as life gets back to normalcy. But one must consider seeking professional help, if this FOGO (fear of going out) or agoraphobia is overwhelming and the very thought of a situation or place causes panic attack.
Tips to overcome this fear and anxiety.
Start with taking small steps.
Firstly, remember that it is ok to feel anxious about getting back to normal life, start slow by taking one step at a time. You can start with taking small walks outside and work your way up from there. When deemed safe, you can consider meeting your other fully vaccinated friends or relatives and then start with small gatherings and outings.
Don’t let your guards down.
As we know, full vaccination does not guarantee full immunity against Covid. Hence never let your guards down even after vaccination. Keep following the safety norms and precautions while in public places. This will automatically reduce the risk and ensure your as well as others safety.
Focus on your wellbeing
Taking care of your physical and mental health is of utmost importance. Try to eat a healthy and balanced diet, exercise regularly and sleep well. Practicing yoga and meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety. Keep note of your feelings and seek help if needed. It is important to reach out before things get out of hand.
It is extremely important to focus on the positives and not let the negativity and unpredictability of the situation get to you. Indulging in your favourite hobbies and mood uplifting activities can do wonders for your health.
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