Agoraphobia is a rare form of anxiety disorder comprising of the illogical and high level of fear. When it happens in the form of incapacitating symptoms or the event of growing panic, you can’t leave the embarrassing or difficult situation. Today, we’ll discuss what is agoraphobia; its symptoms, causes, types, diagnosis, and treatment.
It’s an anxiety disorder and it makes people ignore such situations where they feel embarrassed, helpless, trapped, or panic. It combines with panic disorder and other mental health issues and occurs.
The fear and fright inside of you develop a persistent avoiding behavior, and you would start ignoring such situations and places where you feel panic or fear. For instance, people start avoiding activities, events, and circumstances like crowded places, traveling by plane, visiting the shopping mall, being reluctant to leave the comfort of the house, or driving the motorbike/car.
The life of agoraphobic people becomes very isolating and restrictive because of the avoiding behavior. It has a great impact on the personal and professional life of a person. For instance, avoiding behavior and a high level of fear make it very difficult for a person to visit friends/family members or travel to work. The agoraphobic person finds it very difficult to perform small chores like going to the grocery store.
Symptoms of Agoraphobia
Some of the main symptoms of agoraphobia are as follows;
- Scared of using the public transport
- Avoid visiting those places where you can’t escape
- Afraid of losing control over yourself in the public places
- Find it difficult to visit public places, social events, or leave the house alone
- Frightful of closed buildings and similar enclosed spaces
- Fearing the public places like shopping centers, bridges, or open spaces
- Find it frightening to leave the house
The abovementioned situations, events, and circumstances develop your anxious and fearful uncontrollable response towards the potential danger. The panic attack occurs because of agoraphobia. However, when a person goes through a fearful situation forcefully, then he/she would face panic attacks and exhibit symptoms like;
- Sweating and perspiring
- Shortness of breath
- High pulse and heartbeat
- Feeling numbness
- Unrealistic feelings
- Choking feelings
- Chest pain
Causes of Agoraphobia
It’s difficult to be exact and precise about the causes of agoraphobia. Some factors could increase the chances of creating this disorder, and those factors are as follows;
- Certain chemistry of the brain
- Traumatic or abusive history
- Having agoraphobia in the family
- You also have some other type of phobia as well
- Having any other form of anxiety disorder like social anxiety disorder or generalized anxiety disorder
Some learned associations could cause you to develop symptoms of agoraphobia. When you face a panic attack, then it makes you feel that the episode of fear would come back again in certain circumstances.
Types of Agoraphobia
Many people face panic disorder along with experiencing agoraphobia. Therefore, it’s important to keep in mind that the person doesn’t have a history of panic disorder, and precisely diagnose agoraphobia. When it happens, then you feel trapped and stuck in a certain situation where you feel embarrassed and find it difficult to leave.
Such people aren’t afraid of panic attacks, but they do fear the stress and anxiety symptoms or high physical issues like severe migraine, vomiting, etc. They fear that they faint and fall in public places without any help or lose control over their bladder and urinate.
Roundabout 1-3 or 2 of the panic disorder diagnosed patients develop some type of agoraphobic symptoms. According to a study by NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), it reported that approximately 0.9% of Americans are facing agoraphobia. People exhibit its symptoms at the early age of adolescence.
Diagnosis of Agoraphobia
Your therapist would examine your medical condition and analyze various symptoms. It is probable that your doctor would inquire about your medical history in terms of severity of anxiety symptoms, duration, time period, and nature of episodes. You should consult the doctor if you have the following;
- Exhibiting symptoms for the past six months or more
- Have avoiding behavior that disturbs your relationship, school, work, and other functions in your routine
- Feeling fear of a threat that is uncontrollable and out of proportion
- Going through a certain agoraphobic situation develops stress and anxiety response
- Fearing in approximately two different public places like public transportation, crowded areas, and open spaces
If agoraphobia happens due to the panic disorder, then the symptoms of a persistent panic attack would start to appear in the first year. If you don’t treat the symptoms, then it would get worse. However, if you want to treat the panic and agoraphobic symptoms, then you shouldn’t waste time. Psychotherapy and medication are two types of treatment, and sometimes they work in combination. They’re as follows;
It’s the process of desensitization systematically, where the agoraphobic patient faces difficult and fearful situations under the guidance and support of the therapist. Studies have shown that if you combine psychotherapy with the exposure treatment, then results are highly beneficial for agoraphobic and panic disorder patients. The patient would respond better if any trusted friend is accompanying them.
Doctors usually prescribe the following medicines to agoraphobic patients;
- Anti-anxiety medications: alprazolam, Xanax, clonazepam, or Klonopin
- Anti-depressant medications: tricyclic, selective serotonin-norepinephrine inhibitors (SNRIs), or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
Getting treatment from a professional is the best way. If you make some changes in your lifestyle, then you can learn to treat yourself, they’re as follows;
- Lower the intake of caffeine
- Saying no to alcohol and drugs
- Doing exercises regularly
- Eating a nutritious and healthy diet
- Learning to practice stress and anxiety management techniques like progressive muscles relaxation, visualization, or deep breathing
Conclusion: What is Agoraphobia? Symptoms, Causes, Types, Treatment
After an in-depth study of what is agoraphobia; its symptoms, causes, types, diagnosis, and treatment; we’ve realized that agoraphobic could become worse if left untreated. If you want to treat it by yourself, then you should practice the abovementioned techniques in your routine and lifestyle.
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