Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and often avoid places or situations that can cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless, and confused.
With agoraphobia, you are afraid of the actual or perceived situation, such as using public transportation, being in open or closed spaces, standing in line, or being in the crowd. Anxiety is caused by the fear that there is no easy way to escape or seek help if intense anxiety develops. Most people with agoraphobia develop it after one or more panic attacks, causing them to be afraid of another attack and to avoid the place where it occurred.
People with agoraphobia often have difficulty feeling safe in any public place, especially where crowds gather. You may think that you need a companion, such as a relative or friend, to go with you in public. The fears can be so overwhelming that you may feel unable to leave his home.
Agoraphobia Treatment can be challenging because it usually means confronting your fears. However, with talk therapy and medication, you can escape the trap of agoraphobia and live a more enjoyable life.
Typical symptoms of agoraphobia include:
- Fear of being alone in any situation
- The fear in crowded places
- Fear of losing control in a public place
- The fear in those places where it can be difficult to leave, such as an elevator or train
- Inability to leave your house or only able to keep it if someone goes with you
a feeling of helplessness
- Excessive other
In addition, you may have signs and symptoms of panic attacks, such as:
- Rapid heart rate
- Excessive sweating
- Labored breathing
- Feeling shaky, numbness or tingling
- Chest pain or pressure
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Sudden flushing or chills
- Upset stomach or diarrhea
- The feeling of loss of control
- Fear of death
Panic disorder and agoraphobia
Some people have panic disorder in addition to agoraphobia. Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder in which you experience sudden bouts of extreme fear, which reach a peak within a few minutes and cause intense physical symptoms. You may think that you completely lose control, heart attack, or even death.
The fear of another panic attack can lead to avoiding such circumstances or where it occurred to prevent future episodes of panic.
When to see a doctor
Agoraphobia can severely limit your ability to communicate, work, attend important events and even control the details of everyday life, such as running errands.
Do not let agoraphobia make your world a smaller place. Instead, call your doctor if you have symptoms.
The presence of a panic disorder or other phobias or experiencing stressful life events may play an essential role in the development of agoraphobia.
Risk factors for agoraphobia
Agoraphobia usually begins before the age of 35, but older people can also develop it. In addition, women are diagnosed with agoraphobia more often than men.
In addition to panic disorder or other phobias, agoraphobia risk factors include:
- With a tendency to be nervous or anxious
- Experiencing stressful life events, such as abuse, death of a parent, or of being attacked
- The presence in the blood compared with agoraphobia.
Agoraphobia Test and Diagnosis
Agoraphobia is diagnosed based on signs and symptoms, as well as in-depth interviews with your doctor. You can also have a physical exam to rule out other conditions that may be causing your symptoms.
To be diagnosed with agoraphobia, you must meet the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria, published by the American Psychiatric Association. This guide uses mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions and insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.
Diagnostic criteria include strong agoraphobic fear or worry about two or more of the following situations:
- The use of public transport, such as bus or plane
- While in space, such as parking, a bridge, or a large shopping center
- It is in a closed area such as a movie theater, conference room, or a small shop
- Waiting inline or a crowd
- It is out of your home alone
These situations cause concern because you’re afraid you will not be able to escape or seek help if you are developing panic-like symptoms or other disabling or embarrassing symptoms.
Furthermore, agoraphobia diagnostic criteria include:
- Fear or anxiety, which is almost always the result of the impact on the situation
- Avoiding situations that need a companion to go with you, or the endurance of this situation with extreme distress
- Fear or anxiety that is out of proportion to the actual danger posed by the situation
- Significant distress or problems with social situations, work, or other areas in your life that cause fear, anxiety, or avoidance
- Persistent phobia and avoidance, usually lasting six months or longer.
Treatments and drugs
Agoraphobia treatment usually includes both psychotherapy and medication. It may take some time, but treatment can help you get better.
Also known as talk therapy or psychological counseling, psychotherapy involves working with a therapist to reduce anxiety symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most effective forms of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders, including agoraphobia.
As a rule, short-term treatment and cognitive-behavioral therapy teach you specific skills to return to the work you do gradually. For example, ve avoided because of anxiety. Through this process, your symptoms improve as you build on your initial success.
You can find out:
- It is your fear. It is unlikely to come true.
- What does your anxiety gradually decreases if you are staying in public places, and you can manage these symptoms until they do
- what factors can trigger a panic attack or panic-like symptoms, and what makes them worse
- How to cope with these symptoms
- How to change unwanted or unhealthy behaviors through desensitization, also called contact therapy, to safely face the places and situations that cause fear and anxiety,
If you have problems leaving your home, you may wonder how to go to the therapist’s office. Therapists who treat agoraphobia will be well aware of the problem. They may suggest that you first see in your home, or they may meet with you that you think safe. They may also offer some sessions over the phone, by email, or by using computer programs or other media.
Look for a doctor who can help you find alternative assignments in the office, at least at the beginning of your treatment. You can also take a trusted relative or friend to your appointment who can offer comfort and help if needed.
Antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs are often used to treat agoraphobia and panic symptoms that often accompany agoraphobia. However, you may have to try several different medications before finding one that works best for you.
Your doctor may prescribe one or both of the following:
- Antidepressants – Some antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as paroxetine and fluoxetine, are used to treat panic disorder with agoraphobia. Other antidepressants, such as tricyclic antidepressants, MAO inhibitors, or monoamine, can effectively treat agoraphobia, although they are associated with more side effects than SSRIs.
- Anti-anxiety medication – Also known as benzodiazepines, anti-anxiety drugs are sedatives, which, under certain circumstances, your doctor may prescribe to relieve the symptoms of anxiety. Drugs in this category that are used to treat panic disorder with agoraphobia include alprazolam and clonazepam. Benzodiazepines are usually used only to treat acute stress on a short-term basis. Because they can be habit-forming, these drugs are not a good choice if you have had alcohol or drug problems.
Starting and ending a course of antidepressants can cause side effects that seem to be a panic attack. For this reason, your doctor is likely to increase the dose during treatment gradually and reduce the amount slowly when they feel that you are ready to stop taking the medication.
Preparing for your appointment
If you have agoraphobia, you may be too afraid or embarrassed to go to the office of your health care provider. Consider starting, instead, with a phone call to your ISP. In some hospitals, in particular, specialists in mental health who specialize in agoraphobia and anxiety disorders may be able to offer you options that are less stressful than meeting in the office.
What can you do
To prepare for the appointment, make a list:
- There are symptoms you are experiencing, and how long
- Your essential personal information, especially any significant stress or life changes you experienced during your symptoms first developed.
- Your medical information, including other physical or mental health conditions that you have
- Also, write down the names and doses of any medications and supplements you are taking.
Ask a trusted family member or friend to go with you to your appointment, if possible, to help you remember information.
Prepare questions to ask your health care provider so that you can make the most of your appointment. For agoraphobia, some basic questions include:
- Do you think that the cause of my symptoms
- Is there any other possible causes
- How will? Do you determine my diagnosis?
- Should I be tested for any underlying medical problems?
- Is my condition likely temporary or long-term?
- What kind of treatment do you recommend?
- I have other health problems. As best I can manage it together with agoraphobia?
- What is the risk of side effects from the medicines you recommending?
- Are there other options than to take medicine?
- How soon do you expect my symptoms to improve?
- The treatment, I will eventually be comfortable in situations that now frighten me?
- Does agoraphobia increase my risk of other mental health problems?
- Do I need to turn to a mental health specialist?
- Is there any printed material that I can have? What sites do you recommend?
Do not hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.
What can we expect from your doctor?
Be prepared to answer questions about your health care provider can leave time to go over any points you want to talk about in-depth. Be prepared to answer the following questions from the vendor:
- You recently had a spell or attack when you suddenly feel frightened, anxious, or very uneasy.
- You recently been feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge?
- During these attacks of fear and anxiety, have you ever felt that you could not breathe or had a heart attack?
- What other symptoms do you have?
- When did you first notice these symptoms?
- When are your symptoms most likely to occur?
- Whether there is something that seems to make your symptoms better or worse?
- Do you avoid any situations or places because you fear that they will cause symptoms?
- What do you think, what causes your symptoms?
- How do your symptoms affect your life and the people close to you?
- Have you been diagnosed with any diseases?
- Are you being treated for other psychiatric symptoms or mental illnesses in the past? If yes, what treatment would be most helpful?
- Have you ever thought about harming yourself or others?
- Do you drink alcohol or use illegal drugs? How often?
Agoraphobia Coping and support
Life with agoraphobia can make life difficult. However, professional treatment can help you overcome this disorder or manage it effectively so that you do not become a hostage of your fears.
You can also do these steps to manage and take care of yourself when you have agoraphobia:
- Stick to your treatment plan – take the medication as directed. Keep the purpose of therapy. Consistency can make a big difference, especially when it comes to taking medication.
- Try not to avoid feared situations – It is difficult to go to places or be in cases that make you uncomfortable or cause anxiety symptoms. But the practice is going to more and more businesses can make them less intimidating and anxiety-provoking. Again, family, friends, and your therapist can help you work on it.
- Learn soft skills – Work with your health care professional; you can learn how to soothe and calm yourself. You can practice these skills on your own, especially at the first sign of alarm.
- Practice relaxation techniques – Yoga and images are simple relaxation techniques that can help. And you can make them in the comfort of your own home. Practice these techniques when you are not anxious or worried, and then put them into action during stressful situations.
- Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs – These substances can worsen your panic or anxiety symptoms.
- Take care of yourself – Get enough sleep, be physically active every day and eat a healthy diet, including plenty of vegetables and fruits.
Agoraphobia can significantly limit the activities of your life. If your agoraphobia is severe, you may not even be able to leave his home. Without treatment, some people become housebound for many years. You may not be able to visit with family and friends, go to school or work, run errands, or participate in other normal daily activities. As a result, you can become dependent on others’ help.
Agoraphobia can also cause or be associated with:
- Other mental health problems, including other phobias and other anxiety disorders
- Alcohol or drug abuse, to try to cope with fear, guilt, hopelessness, isolation, and loneliness