Understanding Avoidance Behaviours

If you suffer from panic disorder, it’s likely that you develop certain behaviours as coping mechanisms to reduce the chance of experiencing panic attacks. 

These behaviours can manifest in various ways:

1. Avoidance of Triggers: The mind tends to remember painful and distressing experiences. As a result, you may find yourself avoiding places, situations, or activities associated with previous panic attacks. For example, if you previously had a panic attack in a restaurant, you might avoid going there, and even if you do go, you may feel anxious.

2. Avoidance of Social Situations: This is known as social anxiety. You might start avoiding gatherings, crowded places, or situations where you would be the center of attention because of the fear of having a panic attack in front of others and being judged or criticised.

3. Agoraphobia: In extreme cases, individuals with panic disorder may develop a fear of leaving their “safe” environment. Often, they consider their home as a haven and might not leave for days, weeks, or even months.

4. Avoidance of Physical Activities: Some individuals with panic disorder may avoid physical activities or exercise because they believe that the physiological sensations associated with exertion could trigger a panic attack.

5. Avoidance of Travel: Traveling long distances or being away from home for extended periods can be a source of anxiety for people with panic disorder, as it may increase their perceived vulnerability to panic attacks.

These avoidance behaviours can be problematic because they tend to perpetuate the cycle of anxiety and panic. Avoiding triggers or situations reinforces the belief that these situations are inherently dangerous, which can lead to increased anxiety and more frequent panic attacks over time.

So, what begins with panic disorder and panic attacks can escalate to the development of other fears and phobias.

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