What is agoraphobia? Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that causes a person to avoid places where they may feel embarrassed, panicked, or helpless. In stressful situations, or even before they find themselves in stressful situations, people with agoraphobia experience increased heart rate and nausea. In some severe cases of agoraphobia, people suffering from it cannot even go to places such as banks or supermarkets. There are several types of agoraphobia, such as:
- Paranoid agoraphobia.
- Disorganized agoraphobia.
- Rigid agoraphobia.
What are the symptoms of agoraphobia?
People suffering from agoraphobia should refrain from:
- leaving home for long periods;
- Going to places where they may be denied entry, such as an elevator or car;
- Go to public places alone.
Panic attacks are common among people with agoraphobia. It is usually accompanied by varying levels of anxiety and mental health problems. Here are some other symptoms of agoraphobia:
- pain in chest;
- fast heartbeat;
- shortness of breath;
- profuse sweating;
- Feeling suffocated.
Who are the people at risk?
There are certain factors that make a person vulnerable to this disorder. Risk factors for agoraphobia include:
- This disorder often begins in late adolescence or early adulthood;
- Women are more likely to suffer from agoraphobia than men;
- Traumatic experiences such as physical abuse, sexual assault, or death of family members increase risk;
- An anxious or nervous mood makes a person vulnerable to agoraphobia;
- Having a family history of agoraphobia is also a risk factor.
Causes of fear of open spaces
Scientists do not yet know the causes of agoraphobia. However, there are certain circumstances that lead to agoraphobia. These include:
- Some types of phobias such as social phobia;
- Other anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
How is agoraphobia diagnosed?
Agoraphobia is diagnosed by analyzing a person's behavior. Your doctor may ask you about the origin of your symptoms and their frequency when diagnosing you. He may also ask you detailed questions about your medical history, family history, and past traumatic events.
Your doctor may also do blood tests to make sure these symptoms are not caused by other problems such as drug abuse. To confirm a diagnosis of agoraphobia, you must feel anxious or nervous in two or more of the following situations:
- Public transportation such as train or bus;
- Open spaces such as a playground or parking lot;
- Enclosed spaces such as elevator;
- crowded place;
- Distance from your home.
Other symptoms, such as recurring anxiety attacks, must also appear for a person to be confirmed as agoraphobia.
How is agoraphobia treated?
Agoraphobia can be treated in several ways. It may be necessary to combine these therapeutic approaches to treat agoraphobia:
- Psychotherapy : It involves meeting with a therapist and talking about your fear and anxiety. In addition to therapy, your doctor may also give you medication to treat agoraphobia.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This is the most common method doctors use to treat mental and behavioral health problems. It helps you understand your feelings and opinions related to your condition. Your therapist can also teach you how to manage anxiety and stressful situations.
- Exposure therapy : In this type of therapy, you are gradually exposed to the situation you fear most. Little by little, you become less and less anxious about this situation;
- Drugs : To obtain the best results, drug therapy is recommended along with various treatments.
It's also helpful to make lifestyle changes, such as getting regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet, and practicing meditation.
How can agoraphobia be prevented?
Agoraphobia cannot be prevented in any way. However, we can reduce anxiety by going to places we are afraid to go. If you have mild anxiety about going places like a crowded bus or elevator, try going to these places regularly. If you feel that this is too difficult for you, ask a friend or family member to accompany you. If this doesn't help and your anxiety continues to increase over time, don't hesitate to consult a doctor.
Symptoms, risk factors, causes, diagnosis and treatment