Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder, which involves fear of being in certain situations or places with no way to escape easily. The person may avoid situations or places that might cause them to panic or make them feel helpless or trapped. The anxiety is caused by a fear of being trapped and helpless.
People with agoraphobia often feel suffocated in public places, especially when there's a crowd.
What all conditions trigger agoraphobia?
Conditions that may trigger agoraphobia include:
- Experiencing stressful or traumatic life events, such as the death of a loved one, being attacked, or being abused
- Having a family history of agoraphobia
- Having anxiety or nervousness
- Reacting to panic attacks with extreme fear and nervousness
People may have agoraphobia if they find themselves in the following situations:
- Open spaces (parking lots and bridges)
- Enclosed spaces (stores and movie theaters)
- Public transportation (buses, trains, ships, or planes)
- Stepping out from home alone
How many people have agoraphobia?
What does agoraphobia feel like?
- Chest pain
- Increased heart rate
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Breathing difficulties
- Fear or shaky feeling
- Sudden chills or flushing
There are also feelings like:
- You’ll lose control of yourself.
- You’ll look bad in front of others or they’ll stare at you.
- You should be with someone you can trust blindly.
- You might not survive this panic attack.
- A general feeling of dread.
- You are completely alone in the house.
How is agoraphobia diagnosed?
The symptoms of agoraphobia are similar to other medical conditions such as heart disease, stomach issues, and breathing problems. Hence, the physician may ask certain questions to confirm the diagnosis, which includes:
- Do you find it stressful about leaving your house?
- Are there any places or situations you avoid because you’re afraid? Why are you afraid?
- What happens if you face that situation?
The physician may diagnose agoraphobia if you experience extreme fear or panic attacks in at least two of these situations:
- Going out of your house by yourself
- Being in an open space, such as a parking lot or mall
- Being in an enclosed space, such as a theater or small office
- Standing in a line or being in a crowd
- Using public transportation, including planes
How is agoraphobia treated?
The doctor might prescribe a combination of treatment methods to treat agoraphobia, which includes:
- Lifestyle changes
A therapist may prescribe:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Relaxation or breathing exercises
- Exposure therapy to situations that makes you afraid
Medications commonly used to treat agoraphobia include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
Lifestyle changes should include:
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