Yesterday’s Gone, a report funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre says that it identifies 8 megatrends with the potential to impact employment in Canada by 2030. The report says that the “goal of this research is to explore these technological, social, economic, environmental and political changes and to inform the design of skills-demand programs and policy responses.“
A recent report from Canada’s Future Skills Centre (funded by the Canadian government) says that there has been a rise of Agoraphobic tendencies in the United Kingdom (UK) due to COVID restrictions and policies like social and physical distancing and lockdowns.
Along with that is the overblown fear among the general public that has been caused by the mainstream media’s reporting of COVID.
“This has led to severe impacts on people’s mental health, with psychotherapists in the UK reporting a 200% increase in individuals displaying agoraphobic tendencies, for example. In fact, a report from ADT states that fear of other people is the most–searched phobia of 2020. The instinctual association between the virus and being in close proximity to other people could lead to longer-term psychological impacts, including aversions to large crowds and public spaces along with increased social isolation and loneliness,” reads the report.
While it is unclear how this is impacting Canadians, Google trend data gives us an insight on the search interest of Canadians over time on the term — which yields these results showing the term peaked at 100 near the beginning of all this.
What is agoraphobia?
Agoraphobia is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as; “abnormal fear of being helpless in a situation from which escape may be difficult or embarrassing that is characterized initially often by panic or anticipatory anxiety and finally by the avoidance of open or public places.”
Symptoms of agoraphobia include;
- Fear or anxiety about:
- being outside of the home alone
- using public transportation
- being in enclosed places (stores, movie theaters)
- standing in line or being in a crowd
- being in open spaces (markets, parking lots)
- being in places where escape might be difficult
- Active avoidance of all situations that provoke fear and anxiety
- Becoming housebound for prolonged periods
- Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others
- Feelings of helplessness
- Dependence upon others
- Anxiety or panic attack (acute severe anxiety)
According to LifeStance Health, anyone can develop agoraphobia and certain people may have a higher risk of developing it, this includes;
- Those with another anxiety disorder, including panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder
- Generally have a worried personality
- Are a woman
- Are under the age of 35
- Have a biological relative with agoraphobia
These risk factors do not guarantee that someone will get agoraphobia – they just make the risk higher.
How do I know if I have agoraphobia?
According to Anxiety Canada, you may be have agoraphobia if;
- Individuals with agoraphobia avoid at least 2 of the types of situations mentioned above (e.g. riding on buses and standing in line).
- The fear experienced is out of proportion to the situation. Avoiding a situation that is dangerous (e.g. a dangerous neighborhood) is NOT considered agoraphobia.
- Some individuals with agoraphobia are able to enter these situations but do so with extreme dread and discomfort.
- Once someone with agoraphobia begins avoiding certain situations they often find themselves avoiding more and more situations until they are avoiding almost everything.
Anxiety Canada has developed the MindShift CBT App (partnered with RBC) to help combat social anxieties and phobias in addition to other things like perfectionism. You can check out their app here.
You may not even realize that you have it now — according to LifeStance Health symptoms may only appear post COVID.
“For people who are already at risk of developing agoraphobia, this is a perfect storm in which the disorder can develop. In other people, agoraphobia could have developed during the time of strict quarantine measures but only become apparent as those restrictions lift,” reads their article titled “How the Ongoing Pandemic Could Cause Agoraphobia.”
The story of a woman who had agoraphobia before COVID is quite interesting; she calls it her world, “a life of isolation and sanitation that I’ve wrapped around me like a favourite blanket.”
The way she described the changing of the world since COVID is that she’s been speaking a different language for all these years — and now everyone else has suddenly learned it.
My opinion on this
It’s utterly strange and sad that it’s becoming a sort of “normality” for some in this world to fear others and the activities associated with daily life.
I can’t imagine it — I really can’t. I understand that some people can’t control it and while I will give people their personal space in public to be respectful — I’m personally not scared of other people.
In reality, I can’t go a full day without giving a friend of fist bump or simply defying physical distancing measures while having a conversation — I mean who the hell can hear what anyone is saying with a mask on anyways? I sure can’t.
I really just crave — fiend — desire for my social life back – it’s the only thing someone in their twenties looks forward to. At the same time because of what this world has become — I’m too burned out to even want to do anything but have me time. (Sounds pretty bipolar of me doesn’t it?)
It wasn’t that long ago that my brother told me of a time he was shopping and was going the right way down an aisle (for the record), and another customer turned down the aisle (going the wrong way) and stopped dead in their tracks — simply because he wasn’t wearing a mask and turned around on the dime and left. — Sounds like agoraphobia maybe?
I fear this may consume many people — if it hasn’t already. I sincerely hope this isn’t the future of society because one things for sure — I’m not done living my life in my normality. Think of the long-term repercussions on not only adult behaviour – but also the potential effects on childhood development as well.
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