Why it's important to resist the urge to run home

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During panic, it’s very common to feel an overwhelming urge to run home.  Resisting this urge is one of the keys to overcoming agoraphobia.  A lot of things about how you heal from this condition are very "counter-intuitive" – the opposite of what you might think!  One of these "counter-intuitive" keys is resisting the urge to run home.

In the short run, running home relieves the anxiety.  But in the long run, it actually reinforces the agoraphobia.  When you give in to the impulse to run home, it reinforces two completely false and counterproductive ideas: 1) that you have to run home to relieve panic and 2) that you have to be at home in order to feel safe.

Panic attacks – as unpleasant as they are – are not harmful.  If you don't run home when you have a panic attack, nothing bad will happen.  In fact, in the long run, it will help you to overcome agoraphobia.

Here’s an example of how to resist the urge to run home:  Let’s suppose you are driving and you experience panic and the urge to run home.  Instead of immediately turning the car around and heading home, just find a place to pull over.  Use your cognitive techniques and just wait it out.  You will see that nothing bad happens, and the panic passes very quickly.  Then, congratulate yourself, because you just had a victory!  Once you feel pretty calm, you can decide to either go home or – even better – continue with your outing.

Each time you resist the urge to run home, you discover that, by using your cognitive techniques, or just by waiting it out, the anxiety subsides. And each time you resist the urge to run home, you chip away a little bit of the agoraphobia.

Anticipatory anxiety

 

 


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