If 'cave syndrome' is keeping you from going in public, here's how to combat it

Some people are afraid to rejoin society as pandemic restrictions are lifted.

(CNN)After over a year of staying at home and following strict safety guidelines, many people are understandably reluctant to step out their front door and re-enter society.

For some, they're downright terrified.
Psychiatrist Dr. Arthur Bregman calls this fear "cave syndrome," a non-medical term he's coined.
    At his practice in Coral Gables, Florida, he found many of his patients were nervous about going outside their homes and interacting with others as Covid-19 restrictions lifted. Some of his patients felt mildly uncomfortable while others took their fear to more extremes.
      "I've seen patients who are locked in their room at home" while conducting telemedicine calls "and they're wearing a mask," Bregman said.
      Over the past couple months, he's seen people with moderate cases who have asked him to write doctor's notes to get them out of going to work in-person.
      Bregman said he spends much of his day trying to help these people who are jeopardizing their careers because of this fear.

        Finding the courage to leave the cave

        When he notices a patient is afraid to leave their home, he said he teaches them his MAV system, which stands for "mindfulness, attitude and vision," which he developed in 2021.
        The first step is to be mindful about what's bothering you and focus on narrowing down what that is, he said.
        It's important to have a positive outlook on leaving your home and to visualize the life you want to live.
        Once you know what is making you nervous, Bregman said it's time to start to develop a positive attitude. It's important to have a positive mindset and believe good things can happen to you when you leave your house, he said.
        A great way to develop this positivity is to imagine all the great activities you participated in prior to the pandemic, such as eating indoors with friends or attending concerts, Bregman noted.
        The last step is to visualize your goals and what you can accomplish when you leave your "cave," he said. The sooner people can do this system, the better, Bregman added.
        "The longer people are in their cave, the harder it is to get out," he said.

        Some reluctance is normal

        "Cave syndrome" isn't a formal diagnosis, which needs to go through a formal approval process before getting into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association and acts as a dictionary for mental disorders.
        Many people are feeling uncomfortable going out into the world, which is normal and to be expected, said Dr. Alan Teo, an assoc