Agoraphobia is a disorder of anxiety or extreme fear and irrationality. People with these problems are afraid of situations such as being in public transportation, open and closed spaces, standing in line or being in the crowd. In fact, people with agoraphobia are afraid of crowded public places; So either they do not leave the house at all or they take someone with them. But what exactly causes such a situation? Join us to see what agoraphobia is.
What are the symptoms of agoraphobia?
As we have said, agoraphobia is like intense and irrational fear. These people feel helpless in these special places. The reason for this fear is that they think they have no escape from that place and no one can help them in that situation. Usually in these situations, these people have a panic attack.
Repeated panic attacks in these situations make them more afraid than before and no longer have the courage to leave home alone. Agoraphobia has several symptoms. The main symptoms of this severe fear include the following:
- Fear of going out alone;
- Fear of the crowd or staying in line;
- Fear of places that are difficult to escape;
- Fear of losing control in public places;
- Fear of open space (such as parking, bridge or shopping center);
- Fear of public transport (such as buses, planes or trains);
- Fear of closed space (such as cinemas, elevators, small shops or buildings).
This fear is exacerbated by being in high positions. In these situations, accompanying a friend greatly reduces a person’s stress and anxiety. This anxiety may negatively affect a person’s social, work, or other areas of life. Agoraphobia lasts for at least 6 months and causes depression, low self-esteem, self-blame, despair, anxiety and many other illnesses.
What is the difference between agoraphobia and panic disorder?
In fact, agoraphobia is a consequence of panic disorder. Panic is a neurological disorder that peaks in a matter of seconds and has severe physical symptoms. Sometimes people feel like they have a heart attack or death. If a person has a panic attack in a particular place, he is afraid of being in that place or similar places again. Symptoms of panic include:
- Fear of death;
- Migraine Intense;
- stomach discomfort;
- Diarrhea or nausea;
- urinary incontinence;
- Intense heart rate;
- Lose control;
- Sudden blush;
- Sweating or excessive heat;
- Dizziness or weakness;
- Chest pain or pressure;
- Shortness of breath or feeling suffocated;
- Feeling shivering, numbness, tingling.
Causes and aggravating factors of agoraphobia
The cause of the disease is not entirely clear; But this phobia can be caused by a variety of reasons, including genetics, temperament, environmental stress, or personal experience. Also, if someone has a history of panic attacks, they are more likely to develop this phobia.
Agoraphobia sometimes begins in childhood. However, the disease usually occurs in adolescence and youth before the age of 35. However, this problem has sometimes been present in the elderly. It is noteworthy that women are more likely to develop agoraphobia than men.
If the following factors are present, the severity of this disease increases in different people:
- Being anxious and nervous;
- Excessive fear of panic attacks;
- Chemical imbalance in the brain;
- Having other types of phobias or panic disorder;
- History of this phobia in close relatives;
- Having bitter experiences in life (such as death of parents, rape, being attacked and inability to defend oneself, drug use);
Prevention and diagnosis of agoraphobia
There is no definitive way to prevent this problem. If your agoraphobia is mild, try to overcome it. Staying away from the environment you are afraid of will usually increase the severity of this anxiety. Try to go to safe places slowly or with someone and overcome your fear.
But if your agoraphobia is acute and you have a panic attack, you should be treated sooner. If you ignore the treatment of this problem or other mental illnesses, the severity and symptoms of the disease will become more acute and it will be more difficult to treat. Agoraphobia is different from other fears and phobias. If these people do not use public transportation, it is not because of weather or fear of flying. If they stay away from the crowd, it is not because of social personality disorder or anxiety or fear of being judged by others. They are afraid of panicking in this situation.
Questions for better and more accurate diagnosis
The symptoms of agoraphobia are similar to those of heart disease, stomach problems, and respiratory problems. For this reason, this problem is more difficult to diagnose than other diseases and requires a lot of research and care. The doctor first examines the person’s underlying conditions. He then asks the patient questions to better understand. These questions are:
- What is your medical history, severity and duration of your symptoms?
- Are you scared or stressed to leave the house?
- Is there a place or situation that you avoid going to?
- What do you do if you get stuck in one of these situations?
In addition, the doctor performs many other tests and examinations to more accurately diagnose the disease. If you do not have a physical problem, you should probably see a psychiatrist or psychologist. The psychiatrist will ask you several questions. If you are scared, scared, or anxious in at least two of these situations, you may have agoraphobia:
- Being alone outside the house;
- Being in line or in the crowd;
- Being outdoors (such as a parking lot or shopping center);
- Being indoors (like a theater or small company);
- Use of public transportation such as airplanes or trains.
- These symptoms should last for at least 6 months;
- Your fear should not be because of a threat or danger in that situation;
- This fear must have disrupted your daily habits and activities such as work, education, and relationships.
Treatment of agoraphobia
Agoraphobia limits a person’s ability to have social, occupational, and life relationships. These people can no longer perform their daily tasks and tasks easily. Their world is getting smaller. See a doctor right away if you have any of the above symptoms. Your doctor will sometimes prescribe medication or psychotherapy or a combination of both.
Contains systematic desensitization. In the process of psychotherapy, people are helped to think correctly in stressful situations and situations instead of fear and anxiety, and to develop less phobias. This treatment also includes relaxation or breathing exercises.
2. Facial therapy
It is a very suitable and effective way to treat agoraphobia. In this method, the patient must face stressful situations and do the things he is afraid of with the help of a doctor; For example, if he is afraid of the bus, the doctor will first show him pictures of the bus. Then, in the next step, he asks the patient to walk to the bus station and return. Then they have to travel a short distance by bus so that they can finally get on the bus easily and for a long time.
There are several medications available to treat this problem, the most common of which are antidepressants. Doctors usually start treatment with a low dose to increase the amount of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that makes a person feel good and happy. Drugs that increase brain serotonin and treat agoraphobia include:
- Serotonin reuptake inhibitors;
- Tricyclic antidepressants;
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors norepinephrine.
These drugs should usually be used for 6 months to 1 year. If the person is not anxious or afraid of going to previous stressful situations, the doctor will reduce the amount of these medications. If the symptoms are severe, your doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines, Xanax or clonazepam for short-term relief.
It is a great exercise to reduce stress and relax. Breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, lifestyle changes, regular exercise, healthy diet, adequate sleep, and avoidance of caffeine and alcohol and drugs also have a great effect on the treatment of agoraphobia. Do not forget to ask friends or acquaintances to accompany you whenever you need help. Their company makes it easier for you to cope with fear. You can also talk to your doctor about the best way to manage stress, fear, anxiety and calm yourself.
The last word
A person with agoraphobia is afraid of being in certain places. People with the disease usually do not feel safe and become scared and anxious if they are in public places. Most of the time, these people need a companion such as relatives or friends to go to public places. Sometimes this fear can be so severe that the sick person cannot leave home. This problem causes isolation, isolation, limitation, reduction of social activities, and many psychological problems in individuals; Therefore, this disease must be treated immediately.
Treatment of agoraphobia is also time consuming and complex and requires careful examination and diagnosis; Because the symptoms of this disease are similar to many mental and physical diseases. The most important thing that people often overlook is following the doctor’s instructions and taking medication on time. Most patients with psychotherapy and timely medication can escape the agoraphobia trap and return to a normal life.
Other sources: verywellmind