Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder in which a person fears from being in a real or anticipated situation. In this, people fear from going to places that might make them feel trapped, scared, embarrassed, helpless and panicked. These places can include open spaces, enclosed spaces, a line, or a crowd. People suffering from agoraphobia generally feel uncomfortable in the public places and crowd. Such people prefer to be within the boundaries of their home and do not want to go outside. Sufferers always want the company of some friends or relatives as they do not want to go alone in the outside world due to their fear. This anxiety disorder develops after being suffered by one or more panic attacks. These panic attacks worry sufferers about facing another attack. That is why people suffering from agoraphobia avoid going to the places where panic attacks might happen again. Agoraphobia treatment is not as easy as one has to face and challenge their fears in order to overcome them. Medications and psychotherapy can be very helpful in fighting with agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is more common in the women in comparison to men. Agoraphobia generally starts in young adulthood. Though, symptoms can trigger at any age. One should get the treatment as early as possible. As soon as you discover that you are experiencing any of the symptoms of agoraphobia, you should reach out to the doctors. It is easy to get recovered in the starting of the development of fear. The fear gets more intense with the time so it is better to seek help as early as possible.
- Afraid of being alone: People suffering from agoraphobia always look for a friend or relative to go outside with. They do not want to go alone due to their fear.
- Afraid of going outside: People with agoraphobia generally prefer to be at home and do not want to go outside for a longer period of time. They can have fear of being in open spaces or enclosed spaces, standing in line, or being a part of the crowd. The enclosed spaces include movie theaters, elevators or small stores. The open spaces include parking lots, bridges or malls.
- Using public transportation: People with agoraphobia may have a fear of traveling via bus, plane or train.
- Distress with social situations: People suffering from agoraphobia may feel distressed with social situations or other areas of life due to fear or anxiety. Agoraphobia increases the chances of other anxiety disorders including social anxiety phobia.
- Panic disorder: Panic disorder can lead to a heart attack or even death. In panic disorder, a person loses control of himself or herself. The fear reaches a height within a few minutes and causes panic attacks. The symptoms or signs of a panic attack include rapid heart rate, chest pain or pressure, trouble breathing or a feeling of choking, feeling a loss of control, excessive sweating, feeling shaky, numb or tingling, fear of dying and more.
The exact causes of agoraphobia are still not known. Though, there are certain factors which lead to an increase in the chances of developing agoraphobia. These factors include:
- Depression can lead to the development of agoraphobia.
- There are higher chances of claustrophobia, social phobia and other phobias leading to agoraphobia.
- If someone in the family has the agoraphobia then there are higher chances that a member of the family can have the agoraphobia.
- There are some other types of anxiety disorders including generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder that can also cause agoraphobia.
- If a person has a history of physical or sexual abuse then it can lead to agoraphobia.
Agoraphobia is diagnosed with the help of symptoms and signs. If you find out that you are experiencing any of the symptoms of agoraphobia then you should immediately reach out to the doctors. The doctor will ask you for detailed information about the symptoms that you are experiencing. You will be asked when you started experiencing these symptoms and how often you experience them. They may ask you the information related to medical history and family history. Several blood tests are conducted in order to find out the causes of various symptoms. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a certain criterion has been listed that helps to know whether a person has the symptoms of agoraphobia. The criterion that has been listed in The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders should meet your symptoms in order to be diagnosed with agoraphobia.
There is no confirmed way to prevent agoraphobia. Though, there are certain ways that can help you in the prevention from agoraphobia:
- Avoiding the situations is never a solution. More you avoid the situations, more your fear tends to increase.
- If you have mild fears about some safe places then instead of avoiding those places, you should visit there again and again so that you can conquer your fear.
- If you are not finding it too easy to go then you can ask a friend or relative to go with you but just do not avoid going.
There are many ways of getting the treatment of agoraphobia. Generally, medicines and psychotherapy are used to treat the patients suffering from agoraphobia. Combination of treatment methods is used to achieve the desired result.
- In psychotherapy, a therapist helps you with various practical skills that help in reducing the symptoms of anxiety.
- In psychotherapy, you learn various ways to cope up with your fears. You also learn how to challenge your tensions and fears.
- If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of agoraphobia then you should immediately look for a therapist who can help you in conquering your fears.
- The session can be done at your place or at the office of a therapist. There are some therapists who also offer the sessions via phone, email, or other media.
- If you are experiencing severe agoraphobia then you look for some intensive hospital program that particularly takes care of the treatment of anxiety.
- You can also take a relative or friend with you if you do not want to go alone.
- Antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs are given to the patients for the treatment of agoraphobia.
- Antidepressants are mostly given to the sufferers but anti-anxiety drugs are given on a limited basis.
- Antidepressants are better than anti-anxiety drugs for the treatment.
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) antidepressants including fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft) are given for the treatment of panic disorder with agoraphobia. Some other antidepressants are also available that are helpful in the treatment.
- Your doctor may prescribe you to take anti-anxiety drugs to relieve your from anxiety symptoms temporarily.
- Anti-anxiety drugs are used for the acute pain on a short-term basis.
- Taking anti-anxiety drugs for a long time is not a good idea as it can lead to dependency.
- Sometimes you have to try many medicines in order to find the one that suits you.
- Medicines may take time in relieving the symptoms of agoraphobia.
3. Alternative medicine:
- There are certain dietary and herbal supplements that work as the anti-anxiety benefits.
- You should not take these supplements without the prescription from the doctor.
- These supplements can create a health risk so you not take them without prescription.
- The herbal kava also known as kava kava. It is helpful for the treatment of anxiety but as per various reports if herbal kava taken for the short-term use then it can damage the liver.
- You should avoid the products that contain kava especially if you are facing any liver problem.
- Other anxiety disorders: If a person suffers from agoraphobia then the chances that the person will suffer from another anxiety disorders increase. Another anxiety disorder includes social phobia, posttraumatic stress disorder and more.
- Depression: If agoraphobia continues for a longer period of time then it can also lead to depression.
- Alcohol or other drug use disorders: Those people who suffer from agoraphobia are more prone to the alcohol or other drug use disorders.
- Restricted lifestyle: Those who suffer from agoraphobia do not want to step out of their homes which make their life very restricted to four walls.
- Suicidal thought or actions: Due to agoraphobia, people fear from going outside their homes in a crowded place. Fear, loneliness and, anxiety can lead to suicidal thoughts or actions.
- Impacts the life: If agoraphobia is not treated on time then it can create a great problem. Agoraphobia gets worse with the time.
Myth #1: Phobias cannot be cured; you have to live with it.
In the earlier days, the treatment for agoraphobia was ineffective. But things have changed now. These days, many methods are used to provide the treatment for various symptoms of agoraphobia including psychotherapy and medication.
Myth #2: People become uncontrollable while panicking.
This is not true. People who face agoraphobia become more controlled as they do not want to tell their friends or relatives that are anxious and panicked.
Myth #3: Pay no attention to the panic attacks, they will go away.
You should never ignore the panic attacks. In fact, you should immediately reach out to the doctors for the help. If you ignore the pain attacks initially, they become worse at a later stage. So, it is better to get the best treatment as early as possible.
Myth #4: Panic means I will faint, have a heart attack, or die.
This has never happened till now. No one faints or dies due to panic. In fact, the hormones and chemicals that are released at the time of panic make you stronger.
Myth #5: Phobias are harmless.
As per a study, it has been found that 11% people have become housebound, 30% people develop reactive depression, 17% people lost their job and 27% people have poor relations due to agoraphobia.
Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder because of which people avoid the situations or places. In this disorder, people have fear of going to some places. They may have a fear of standing in a line or being in a crowd. Due to agoraphobia, people experience some of the symptoms including nausea, fear, sweating, numb and more. So, people start avoiding the situations and places. Agoraphobia restricts the lifestyle of people as one does not want to go outside in this type of anxiety disorder.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of agoraphobia then you should immediately reach out to the doctors for the diagnosis. There are various options available for the treatment of agoraphobia including medication and psychotherapy. Medication methods are generally used in the combination. It is important that you reach out to the doctors at the earliest. If not treated properly on time then it can lead to a serious problem. There are many complications associated with agoraphobia. Agoraphobia can lead to depression. Agoraphobia can also lead to various other types of disorders. A person may also get suicidal thoughts in agoraphobia due to the feeling of loneliness, fear and, anxiety.
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- What is Agoraphobia?
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- How is agoraphobia prevented, diagnosed and treated?
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