Agoraphobia – What is it, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments!

Agoraphobia – What is it, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments  of this condition. Also, Agoraphobia  (ag-uh-ruh-FOE-be-uh) is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless, or ashamed. .

You fear a real or anticipated situation, such as using public transport, being in open or closed spaces, being in line or being in a crowd. Anxiety is caused by the fear that there is no easy way to escape or get help if the anxiety escalates.

Most people who have Agoraphobia  develop it after having one or more panic attacks, causing them to worry about another attack and avoid places where it could happen again.

People with Agoraphobia  often have a hard time feeling safe in any public place, especially where crowds gather. You may feel that you need a companion, such as a relative or friend, to go with you to public places. The fear can be so overwhelming that you may feel unable to leave your home.

Treating Agoraphobia  can be challenging because it usually means confronting your fears. But with psychotherapy and medication, you can escape the Agoraphobia  trap and live a more pleasant life. So, check now  Agoraphobia – What is it, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments:

What is Agoraphobia:  Agoraphobia is  an anxiety disorder characterized by an intense fear about any place or situation where escape might be difficult, or where help might not be available if a problem occurs. People with Agoraphobia  often fear helplessness in situations where strong anxiety , panic, or embarrassment can develop, and typically do not feel comfortable or safe in public places — especially places that are crowded.

Causes of Agoraphobia:  Biology – including health conditions and genetics – temperament, environmental stress and learning experiences can all play a role in the development of Agoraphobia .

Agoraphobia Symptoms:  Typical symptoms of Agoraphobia  include fear of:

  • leaving home alone
  • Crowds or waiting in line
  • Enclosed spaces, such as movie theaters, elevators, or small stores
  • Open spaces such as parking lots, bridges, or malls
  • Using public transport, such as a bus, plane, or train

These situations cause anxiety  because they fear you won’t be able to escape or find help if you start to panic or have other disabling or embarrassing symptoms. Furthermore:

  • Fear or anxiety  almost always results from exposure to the situation
  • Your fear or anxiety  is out of proportion to the real danger of the situation
  • You avoid the situation, you need a companion to go with you, or you put up with the situation but are extremely distressed
  • You experience major issues or problems with social situations, work, or other areas in your life because of fear, anxiety ,  or avoidance
  • Your phobia and avoidance usually lasts for six months or more

Risk Factors for Agoraphobia:  Agoraphobia can  start in childhood but usually starts in the late teens or early years of age – usually before the age of 35 – but older adults can develop as well. Women are diagnosed with Agoraphobia  more often than men. Risk factors for Agoraphobia  include:

  • Having panic disorder or other phobias
  • Responding to Panic Attacks with Excessive Fear and Avoidance
  • Experiencing stressful life events, such as abuse, the death of a parent, or being attacked
  • Having an anxious or nervous temperament
  • Having a blood relative with Agoraphobia

Complications of Agoraphobia:  Agoraphobia can  greatly limit your life activities. If your Agoraphobia  is severe, you may not be able to leave your home. Without treatment, some people have been hospitalized for 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. You may become dependent on others for help. Agoraphobia can  also lead to or be associated with:

Diagnosis of Agoraphobia:  Agoraphobia is  diagnosed based on:

  • Signals and symptons
  • In-depth interview with your doctor or a mental health professional
  • Physical exam to rule out other conditions that could cause your symptoms
  • Criteria for Agoraphobia  listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Agoraphobia Treatments:  Treatment for Agoraphobia  usually includes psychotherapy and medication. It may take some time, but treatment can help you get better. The main treatments for  Agoraphobia include:

Psychotherapy:  Psychotherapy involves working with a therapist to set goals and learn practical skills to reduce your anxiety symptoms . Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most effective forms of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders, including Agoraphobia .

Usually a short-term treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on teaching you specific skills to better tolerate anxiety , directly challenging your worries, and gradually returning to activities you’ve avoided because of anxiety. Through this process, your symptoms improve as you build on your initial success. You can learn:

  • What factors can trigger a panic attack or panic symptoms and what makes them worse
  • How to deal with and tolerate symptoms of anxiety
  • Ways to directly challenge your concerns, such as the likelihood of bad things happening in social situations
  • That your anxiety  will gradually decrease if you stay in situations and that you can manage these symptoms until they do
  • How to change unwanted or unhealthy behaviors through desensitization, also called exposure therapy, to safely face the places and situations that cause fear and anxiety

If you have trouble leaving your home, you may wonder how you could ever go to a therapist’s office. Therapists who treat Agoraphobia  are well aware of this problem. If you feel at home due to Agoraphobia , look for a therapist who can help you find alternatives to office appointments, at least early on in treatment.

He or she may offer to see you first at your home or meet you in what he or she considers a safe place (safe zone). Some therapists may also offer some sessions over the phone, via email, or using computer programs or other means of communication.

If your Agoraphobia  is so severe that you cannot access care, you may benefit from a more intensive hospital program that specializes in treating anxiety . You may want to bring a trusted family member or friend to your appointment who can offer comfort, help, and training if needed.

Medications For Agoraphobia:  Certain types of antidepressants are often used to treat Agoraphobia , and sometimes anti- anxiety medications  are used on a limited basis. Antidepressants are more effective than anti-anxiety medications in treating Agoraphobia . Medications  for Agoraphobia include:

  • Antidepressants. Some antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft), are used for the treatment of panic disorder with Agoraphobia . Other types of antidepressants can also effectively treat Agoraphobia .
  • Anti-anxiety medication. Anti- anxiety medications  called benzodiazepines are sedatives that, in limited circumstances, your doctor may prescribe to temporarily relieve your anxiety symptoms. Benzodiazepines are usually only used to relieve  short-term acute anxiety . Because they can be habit forming, these drugs aren’t a good choice if you’ve had long-term problems with anxiety or problems with alcohol or drug abuse.

It can take weeks for medication to relieve symptoms. And you may have to try several different medications before you find one that works best for you. Both starting and ending a course of antidepressants can cause side effects that create uncomfortable physical sensations or even panic attack symptoms.

For this reason, your doctor will likely gradually increase your dose during treatment and slowly decrease your dose when he or she feels ready to stop taking medication.

Alternative Medicine:  Certain dietary and herbal supplements claim to have calming and anti- anxiety benefits . Before taking any of these for Agoraphobia , speak to your doctor. While these supplements are available without a prescription, they still pose potential health risks.

For example, the herbal supplement kava, also called kava kava, appeared to be a promising treatment for anxiety , but there have been reports of severe liver damage even with short-term use. Avoid using any product that contains kava until more rigorous safety studies are done, especially if you have liver problems or take medications that affect your liver.

Agoraphobia Prevention:  There is no sure way to prevent Agoraphobia . However, the anxiety  tends to increase, the more you avoid situations that you are afraid of. If you start to fear slightly about places that are safe, try to practice going to those places over and over again before your fear becomes overwhelming. If this is too difficult to do on your own, ask a family member or friend to go with you, or seek professional help.

If you experience anxiety  in places or panic attacks, get treatment as soon as possible. Get help early to prevent symptoms from getting worse. Anxiety, like many other mental health conditions, can be more difficult to treat if you wait.

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