Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that typically involves an intense fear of situations and places where escape is difficult and no help is available. For many people, the thought of crowds, bridges, elevators, public buildings, public transportation or elevators may be too much to handle.

Individuals with the disorder may also fear situations where they are laughed at, or where humiliation or embarrassment is possible. Agoraphobia may also involve an unreasonable fear of losing control, going crazy or dying. The fear may be so intense that it interferes with work, school, or other activities of daily life. Some people are unable to leave the safety of home.

What Causes Agoraphobia?

Experts aren’t sure why people develop agoraphobia, but it seems that the disorder may run in families. Frequently, a person who has had one or two severe panic attacks develops agoraphobia as a response to an extreme fear of having another attack.

Agoraphobia is more common in females. While the disorder frequently begins in adolescence or early adulthood, it can also affect young children.

Symptoms of Agoraphobia

Like any anxiety disorder, individuals with agoraphobia may experience a wide range of symptoms, including the following:

  • Shortness of breath

  • Chest pain

  • Racing heart

  • Dizziness

  • Sweating

  • Trembling

  • Nausea

  • Agitation

  • Feelings of choking

  • A “pins and needles” sensation

  • A sensation of being detached from the body

  • Depression, sometimes to the point of suicide

Agoraphobia and Addiction

Symptoms of agoraphobia are so difficult that many people turn to drugs and alcohol to relieve fear, anxiety and depression. When this occurs, it’s critical to seek drug and alcohol treatment or rehab as soon as possible. Agoraphobia is treatable, even when complicated by substance abuse.

If symptoms are unmanageable or if severe depression is involved, residential treatment for anxiety and depression may be necessary.

How is Agoraphobia Treated?

Various counseling techniques, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), can help people learn to cope with symptoms and come to an understanding that their fears are out of proportion to any real threat or danger.

Symptoms are relieved when people are able to recognize panic-inducing thoughts and replace them with more constructive ways of thinking. In time, exposure therapy can enable people to face situations that provoke anxiety.

For many people, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications can relieve depression or anxiety associated with agoraphobia. Various relaxation and stress management techniques, including mindfulness meditation for anxiety, are also helpful.

The newest posts

Our private articles and press releases