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Agoraphobia, Social Anxiety or Both?

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khpink2

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Can someone please explain the differences between those two disorders, preferably with examples?

I'm not understanding the articles I've been reading about these disorders. I find a lot of the information to be contradicting.

I have an anxiety/panic attack calling someone on the phone, going to the store, or even ordering food in a restaurant. I'll even go out of my way to avoid these things. But I don't feel like the definitions of agoraphobia or social anxiety apply to me.

I know that I've had these issues as far back as I can remember (3 years old). I'm wondering if I have both disorders and that's why I can't tell what I'm truly feeling, other than extreme anxiety.
 
daffy

daffy

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A lot of people misunderstand agoraphobia. It’s isnt just a fear of open spaces A few years ago i was told that was agorophobic but because i loved wild open spaces i denied it even tho i hate leaving the house, but my biggest fear was meeting people and thats what a lot of agoraphobics/social anxiety sufferers go thru. I knew if i could go out for a walk and not meet a soul or go to an empty supermarket i would be fine. It’s the fear of socialising that makes you fear going out and so you are agoraphobic . The thought of going to a pub or a restaurant is a nightmare for me if I’m with someone who doesnt understand how nerve wracking it is.
 
jajingna

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I don't suffer from agoraphobia, though I'm not keen on crowds, and sometimes react a bit anxiously or even paranoid I guess with just strangers around outdoors. But social anxiety is something I have a lot of experience with, and it is complicated. What they have in common is the feeling of threat from others, of not feeling safe and at ease because others seem like a danger somehow. It's an emotional problem rooted in the older part of the brain. Rational thinking doesn't resolve it, that takes place in a different area. That's part of the explanation anyway. This is why phobias are not easily put away with logic. Someone who doesn't share your phobia may just think you should be able to see through it as irrational because it makes no sense logically. But the emotions have more power than thought or ideas, is how I see it. Fear doesn't have to make sense.

Other than all that there is the nervous system. Who knows how that might be conditioned by earlier experiences. The way your emotions and brain work may go well back into early childhood, and there may be more arousal activity, or hypervigilance, scanning for environmental threats, perceiving them where another person doesn't, something that you perhaps adapted at an early age as a defense or survival mechanism in your family, and now this has become like a pattern and a reflexive response.
 
jajingna

jajingna

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Was just reading about social anxiety disorder, and saw this:

"Individuals suffering from agoraphobia may fear and avoid social situations; however, their primary fear is that escape from a social situation may be difficult in the event of incapacitation or panic-like symptoms, whereas individuals with SAD are primarily fearful of the potential for scrutiny by others that is inherent in an interpersonal situation."

Agoraphobia -- concerned with escape if panic happens
Social phobia -- concerned with others judging them
 
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PuffinParty

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Hi,

I'm only 24 years old but I've had anxiety, BDD and depression for 9 years. Since 2019 I've also suffered with severe agoraphobia. While I'm not comfortable trying to diagnose somebody else I can readily offer my own experiences for comparison.

I refuse phone calls. It can't happen. Regardless of the supposed importance, there's literally nothing that could make me pick up a phone and answer it. I actually removed my sim card in 2019 and have not experienced a phone call since. I would, and have, black(ed) out from pure fear of being "exposed" (having my voice exposed, being perceived, being judged).

I haven't gone to the store since 2019. I order everything online. When it's delivered drivers are instructed, via a sign, to leave items at my gate. I avoid them entirely. Similarly, I use JustEat to order food online.

I also haven't seen my friends at all since 2018. I have one picture of myself on my phone and I don't use social media. I effectively don't exist. I'm also in a very fortunate position to be able to work from home. I'm self employed and I don't come into contact with anybody whatsoever. If I did, in my current state, I'd be at risk of a heart attack because of my blood pressure.

This isn't a severe sense of shyness, it's pure dread. It's enough for me to physically collapse, to have a blood pressure exceeding 180, to have heart palpitations. There's no doubt in my mind that I have any choice, I don't.

Social anxiety, to me, is having the freedom and possibility to do something but either struggling greatly or not enjoying it. Could you answer a "serious" phone call in an emergency?

Agoraphobia, to me, is a fear so strong that it can (and will) shut your mind and heart off. It's a dread of exposure, of being perceived, of being crowded outside. It's blacking out, collapsing, requiring medical attention. It's avoiding family and friends at all costs, disappearing. It's being house-bound for long periods of time, if not years. It's being petrified of the sky, or sea, anything that stretches across a long distance. It's being trapped.

There's an immense difference between being extremely shy, having social anxiety and having agoraphobia.

Stay safe!
 
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khpink2

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Hmm... I think I have both agoraphobia and SAD. I'm definitely concerned with how others perceive and judge me so it sounds like I have SAD. I don't think I had that at age 10 though, I'm not sure when it started.

But I'm not concerned with escaping from a situation like in agoraphobia. I'm simply panicky about social situations and try to avoid them and I've always been that way, though it's gotten much worse as I've gotten older. I am better about certain things, but worse with others. I simply have a fear of socializing. I would have a fear of driving to a store, then not even getting out or talking to anyone, and driving back home. But yes, I dread pretty much any interaction of any kind with anyone other than my mom. I used to be ok with calling my aunt. We'd talk for a long time about nothing. I didn't mind too much going to her house. If she needed me to take her to the doctor, I'd do it, but I dreaded it. She was a very special person to me. She died last year, my uncle and cousins moved away. I feel very lonely now. The lack of human interaction makes things worse.

I don't know, maybe because I've always been like this I don't experience the escape issue? The way I am now is pretty much the way I've always been. I have no idea what it's like to be "normal." Maybe it would be different if I had been "normal" then developed agoraphobia. That must be horrible though.

I just remembered. When I was a child between 8-10, I lived in a pretty safe city. We weren't even on the map back then. Grocery stores were setup so you couldn't take your cart to your car, no one ever did that. You either carried your bags to the car or you left your cart at the curb and drove your car to the curb to load your groceries. My mom started leaving me with the cart and I became a bit panicked but didn't show it. If she drove the car the opposite way down the parking lot (as opposed to driving directly to the curb), I would freak out thinking she was going to leave me there and I'd never get home. I didn't show my fear, but I felt it inside. She never knew I felt like that. I don't know why I felt like that exactly or what that even was. Obviously, I have issues.

Anyway, does it sound like I have both agoraphobia and SAD?
 

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