Agoraphobia and COVID-19
Wearing a mask can be difficult for someone with agoraphobia. The condition often goes hand in hand with many other anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and generalized anxiety disorder. Wearing a mask can cause people with these disorders to feel claustrophobic and fearful of going out in public, and being singled out for not wearing one can be nerve-wracking.
During the pandemic, some people may feel trapped because of the stay-at-home orders, while some may feel anxious about leaving their home at all. In addition, many people with agoraphobia have family members or friends they take when they need to leave their homes. With social distancing protocols, that may not be possible in many cases, which could cause even more anxiety for them.
While many people with agoraphobia might be happy to stay at home, there are several for whom having to shelter in place can be a nightmare. Many people with anxiety feel safe because of their connection to emotional support, even though it means leaving their homes. For those who rely on others to assist them, stay-at-home orders and social distancing rules can remove that support that made it possible to function. They can’t even have face-to-face sessions with their therapist, which is another challenge. Even with the explosion of teletherapy, there are still those who do not have access to the internet.
There is always a chance that someone’s agoraphobia could worsen even as the pandemic is getting under control. In many places around the country, restrictions are lifted depending on COVID-19 case numbers, even though it is considered a fluid situation that could change at any given time. Certain businesses remain open as long as precautions are in place. However, the virus is not gone, and people continue to become extremely ill because of it. This situation creates uncertainty and fear, which is a perfect storm for anyone at risk of developing agoraphobia.