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Do you feel paralyzed with fear or anxiety when you leave home?

If you do, you could suffer from agoraphobia. The hallmark of this anxiety disorder is a need to get away from situations and places that make you feel panicked, helpless, embarrassed or trapped. You may feel like you need to get back into your comfort zone.

You may not even want to leave your home. Depending on its severity, this condition can prove debilitating. You may not be able to go out into your front yard, let alone to the grocery store, work or anywhere else for that matter.

What are the signs of agoraphobia?

No one is sure what causes this condition, but the psychological/psychiatric community recognizes certain signs of it, such as the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Trembling
  • Fear of humiliation
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Hyperventilation
  • Fear of a panic attack
  • Fear of a loss of control
  • Ringing in the ears

Normal daily activities become impossible for many who suffer from agoraphobia. Your personal life could end up non-existent. Interacting with co-workers, taking an elevator or being in crowds just isn't possible. In fact, enclosed spaces and crowds will surely result in a panic attack and the manifestation of one or more of the above symptoms. Ultimately, you could fear leaving your home.

Your fears can take over your life. You could suffer from one of many types of agoraphobia, such as claustrophobia, paranoid agoraphobia, catatonic agoraphobia, disorganized agoraphobia or enochlophobia. You would need to undergo one or more examinations in order to determine which type you suffer from, which could take some time.

What happens next?

Once you receive a diagnosis, you will more than likely enter treatment. The problem is that anxiety over how you will support yourself could only add to your challenges. You could apply for benefits through your work, group or private disability insurance. However, insurance companies are in the business of making money. If they can find a reason not to approve your claim, they will. Mental health issues are often more difficult to prove, which leaves room for doubt, which the insurance company may take advantage of and then deny your claim.

Receiving a denial probably won't help your condition. Instead of accepting the insurance company's decision, you could file an appeal. This process can prove frustrating, complex and stressful. Fortunately, you don't have to deal with this alone. You could turn to an attorney who routinely helps people in your position.

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