The release of Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare, has garnered attention worldwide, stirring heated conversations from talk shows to street corners. It is officially the fastest-selling non-fiction book in the UK.
Prince Harry spares no detail in the book as he reveals his struggles and controversial stories about the royals, including King Charles and his stepmother, Camilla.
While his opinions about the royal family are the topic of much discussion, one story, in particular, caught our attention – Prince Harry’s admission of suffering from an anxiety disorder, agoraphobia.
In the book, Harry writes: “I was an agoraphobe, which was nearly impossible given my public role.” What is agoraphobia? Why is this condition a “major” problem for someone like Prince Charles?
What Is Agoraphobia?
Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by intense fear and avoidance of situations where a person feels they may be unable to escape or receive help if needed.
These situations can range from public settings such as shopping malls, crowded trains, or even being alone at home. People who have agoraphobia can also experience extreme panic attacks in these settings.
Related: 7 Things to Say to Someone Who Is Depressed
Why Was Agoraphobia a Problem for Prince Charles?
Prince Harry’s public role requires him to attend high-profile events, press conferences, and other formal engagements on behalf of the royal family. He had to be in large crowds or uncomfortable situations, which can be overwhelming for someone with agoraphobia.
In the book, Prince Harry said he “nearly fainted” during a speech that couldn’t be avoided or canceled. For someone living with agoraphobia, these unavoidable engagements can trigger extreme anxiety and panic attacks. It is unclear whether Harry still has agoraphobia today.
How Does Fear of Open Spaces Affect People?
The fear of open spaces – or agoraphobia – can significantly impact patients’ everyday lives. People living with agoraphobia may begin to avoid situations that trigger anxiety, such as going out in public or even leaving the house.
They may feel isolated and depressed as their world becomes increasingly smaller. It can also lead to substance abuse, as some people use drugs or alcohol to cope with the fear and anxiety.
At the same time, agoraphobia can be difficult to diagnose, as it is often confused with a social anxiety disorder or generalized anxiety disorder. It is crucial for anyone experiencing these symptoms to seek professional help; you can manage agoraphobia with therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.
Related: 25 Lies We Tell Ourselves About Mental Health
How Many People in the US Are Affected?
Agoraphobia is less common than other anxiety disorders, but it is still a major problem. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 1.3% of US adults experience agoraphobia at some point.
Going by the 2020 census (258 million adults), about 2.5 million adults live with agoraphobia in the US alone.
Factors That Increase the Risk of Agoraphobia
A few factors can increase the risk of developing agoraphobia, such as genetics, a traumatic event in childhood or adulthood, or even a pre-existing mental health condition.
You can manage agoraphobia with the right treatment and support. If you or someone you know is struggling with agoraphobia, seek professional help.
This article was produced on Health Makes You.