- The royal tell-all Spare sheds light on the relationship between Britain’s Prince Harry and agoraphobia.
- Experts contend this mental health disorder can be treated with therapy and medication.
In the highly anticipated autobiographical account Spare, Harry, Duke of Sussex sheds light on severe mental health issues like grief, drug abuse, and maladaptive coping. He also speaks openly of a lesser-known mental health disorder: Agoraphobia.
What Is Agoraphobia?
In popular conception, agoraphobia is the fear of places and situations that might cause negative feelings such as panic, helplessness, or embarrassment. As a mental health condition, it involves an extreme fear of crowded, public, or enclosed spaces, such as markets, public vehicles, lines, malls, elevators, etc.
The common agoraphobia symptoms include:
- Not leaving home for an extended period of time
- Trying not to go too far from home
- Limiting activities and socialization that might require going out
- Needing an accompanying person to go out with all of the time
- Fear of being alone in a social gathering
- Fear of places that do not have an escape
- Experiencing physical symptoms like chest pain, choking, sweating, etc.
The Negative Effects Of Agoraphobia
Agoraphobia affects almost 1.7% of adults. Around 30-50% of individuals with this disorder also suffer from panic and anxiety disorders.
Living with agoraphobia can be exhausting. It makes it difficult for the person experiencing agoraphobia to engage in daily activities (like going to work or running errands) and maintain social relationships with friends and family.
In the most severe cases, people become housebound for years—with their personal and professional lives suffering in the process.
Prince Harry’s Struggle With Agoraphobia
The autobiography Spare details Prince Harry’s anxiety disorder and how it affected him while carrying out royal engagements. His agoraphobia made it difficult for him to give speeches, appear in public, or interact with crowds of admirers. He remarked: “I was an agoraphobe. Which was nearly impossible given my public role.”
How To Overcome Agoraphobia
Agoraphobia is a debilitating mental health condition that requires medical attention. Therefore, timely and correctly diagnosing someone with agoraphobia is the key to accelerating the process of healing and ensuring a good quality of life.
Agoraphobia treatment usually involves therapy, medication, or a combination of both. In fact, therapy helps people with agoraphobia identify the negative thoughts associated with public situations and eventually overcome their fear.
Online or web-based CBT has been especially useful for people with intense agoraphobia who might fear going to therapy physically. Support from family and friends is also of paramount importance for a person suffering or recovering from agoraphobia.