Everything about Agoraphobia: Symptoms, Cause, Treatment
Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder where the affected person experiences an extreme fear of crowded places. Some people suffering from Agoraphobia would tend to avoid being in places that can make them feel trapped or embarrassed.
The person is extremely fearful about a situation like standing in a queue or using public transport or maybe in an enclosed space. The person becomes anxious fearing the situation where there would not be a vent to escape if for some reason they get trapped.
The affected person often avoids going to the place where the panic attack had taken place previously as it causes anxiety about falling prey to another attack.
The Agoraphobic person struggles feeling safe in a public place alone (particularly at a place where there’s too much crowd). These people would always need someone alongside.
But there is nothing to worry -- it is curable. With proper diagnosis & treatment, the person can get rid of such a situation. Let’s learn about Agoraphobia in a little more detail. Here we go:
What is Agoraphobia?
Agoraphobia is a condition in which the affected person tends to avoid situations & places in which they get to experience — panic, embarrassment, helplessness, anxiousness, or feeling of being scared. A person with agoraphobia may sometimes experience nausea or rapid heartbeat - much before the actual situation.
In the worst-case scenario, the affected person might avoid going to the grocery shop or a nearby shop. They would rather prefer being at home.
Here’s what Research Data says.
Per the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) reports as much as 0.8 of people in the United States are suffering from Agoraphobia. Out of this, 40 percent of the patients are severely affected — this number is quite disturbing.
Agoraphobia can cause disability in severe cases. However, the person suffering from agoraphobia realizes that the fears have been harboring for so many years makes no sense, but they are unable to get rid of this fear.
Getting help from experts is important as it can interfere with the person’s professional & personal life. It can deteriorate once the performance level in their academics or at the workplace.
It is advised that if you are experiencing any such issue, you should immediately seek help from an expert. Systematic treatment would help in improving your quality of life.
Symptoms of Agoraphobia:
The typical symptoms of Agoraphobia include:
- Fear of going out
- Fear of being alone in public places.
- Being agitated & anxious
- Fear of being in places where escape is difficult — like an elevator or car.
- Fear of getting detached or estranged from loved ones.
Apart from these symptoms, the affected person sometimes also suffers from panic attacks. There are various physical symptoms that occur whenever there’s a panic attack — the person might experience a racing heart, nausea, sweating, numbness, dizziness, chills, chest pain, choking, diarrhea, tingling sensations, and shortness of breath.
People suffering from agoraphobia will get panic attacks in an uncomfortable or stressful situation.
Researchers have not been able to establish why Agoraphobia is caused. However, there are proofs from the past that reveal people who have a family history of panic attacks are more at the risk of suffering from agoraphobia. But agoraphobia may also be caused on its own — even if you have no family history of panic attacks.
While we have no clue of the root cause of agoraphobia, yet, we have a knowledge of the factors that can make you prone to the condition. Let’s see what those factors include:
- A sexual or physical abuse history.
- A family history of agoraphobia.
- Substance abuse.
- Social phobia or claustrophobia.
- Depression or anxiety disorder issue.
At what age Agoraphobia symptoms emerge?
However, there is no such age limit for Agoraphobia symptoms to come up and it can emerge at any age, yet in most cases, symptoms emerge during young adulthood. The average age for agoraphobia symptoms to occur is 20 years.
Any psychiatrist can help with the diagnosis of agoraphobia by administering certain health assessment tests based on the symptoms you are experiencing. The diagnosis by the health profession would be based on the following symptoms:
- Fear of open space.
- Fear of public transportation.
- Fear of going out of the home.
- Fear of being in a closed space.
The treatment usually includes medication, therapy sessions, or both. In most of the cases, experts prescribe a combination of both — therapy & medication. This kind of treatment is found to have a greater & long-lasting impact.
There are different forms of therapies for agoraphobia treatment that works — Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Exposure Therapy. In addition to that, there are different medications for Agoraphobia treatment including fluoxetine (Prozac), venlafaxine (Effexor), nortriptyline (Pamelor), clonazepam (Klonopin), and more.
The medical professional may also prescribe a few simple yet effective lifestyle changes as a part of the agoraphobia treatment. While these lifestyle changes may not directly treat agoraphobia yet it will catalyze the process by reducing anxiety.
Some of these suggested lifestyle changes include:
- Regularly exercising.
- Eating healthy.
- Practicing meditation.
The people who suffer from agoraphobia are extremely fearful of being in crowded & enclosed spaces. The root cause of agoraphobia is not known — yet, it can be treated with proper diagnosis & treatment. When diagnosed at an early stage, treatment is faster & easier. The person suffering from agoraphobia might face problems in carrying out their everyday activities. If you are experiencing the symptoms do not hesitate in seeking help. Although there is no dedicated treatment yet professional help can relieve the symptoms and enhance the overall quality of life.
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