What is agoraphobia?
Agoraphobia is a condition that can make it difficult or impossible to leave your home. It can also lead to panic attacks and other problems. Agoraphobia can be treated with therapy and medication. It is important to take care of your health.
How do you know if you have agoraphobia?
It is difficult to know if you have agoraphobia unless you talk with a doctor or other health care professional.
What is an example of agoraphobia?
For example, a person with agoraphobia may avoid driving a car, leaving the comfort of home, shopping in a mall, traveling by airplane, or simply being in a crowded area
Is agoraphobia just anxiety?
It is a type of anxiety disorder. A person is afraid to leave environments they know and consider to be safe for fear of having anxiety or a panic attack. Agoraphobia responds well to treatment.
What agoraphobia feels like?
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.
How many people have agoraphobia?
About 1% to 2% of adults in the United States have been diagnosed with. Roughly 2% of adolescents experience it. Agoraphobia is more common among women. It usually starts before age 35.
What are the risk factors for agoraphobia?
Risk factors for developing include:
- Having panic attacks or other phobias
- Experiencing stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one, being attacked, or being abused.
- Having a nervous or anxious nature
- Responding to panic attacks with excess fear and apprehension.
- Having a relative with agoraphobia
What does agoraphobia feel like?
Everyone experiences anxiety sometimes. But an anxiety disorder causes excessive worry that affects daily activities. Can make you feel extreme fear and stress, which may cause you to avoid situations.
Signs of Agoraphobia
The signs of agoraphobia are similar to a panic attack. You may experience:
- Chest pain or rapid heart rate
- Fear or a shaky feeling
- Hyperventilation or trouble breathing
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Sudden chills or flushing (red, hot face)
- Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)
- Upset stomach
How it is diagnosed?
If you think you have , and the anxiety is interfering with your daily life, you should talk to a primary care provider or psychiatrist. If you are afraid to visit a medical office in person, you may be able to schedule a telephone or video appointment.
The healthcare provider may ask you:
- Do you get stressed about leaving your house?
- Are there any places or situations you avoid because you’re afraid? Why are you afraid?
- Do you rely on others to do your shopping and errands?
A healthcare provider can diagnose agoraphobia based on your symptoms, how often they happen and how severe they are. It is important to be open and honest with your healthcare providers. Your provider may diagnose if you meet specific standards developed by the American Psychiatric Association.
To have a diagnosis , a person must feel extreme fear or panic in at least two of the following situations:
- Using public transportation
- Being in an open space
- Being in an enclosed space, such as a movie theater, meeting room or small store
- Standing in a line or being in a crowd
- Being out of your home alone
What is an agoraphobic lifestyle?
Refers to the fear of being in places or situations from which escape might be difficult (or embarrassing) or in which help may not be available in the event of an unexpected panic attack. Although it is an anxiety disorder that can occur on its own, it’s commonly a complication of panic disorder.
What triggers agoraphobia?
What causes agoraphobia? Usually develops as a complication of panic disorder, an anxiety disorder involving panic attacks and moments of intense fear. It can arise by associating panic attacks with the places or situations where they occurred and then avoiding them.
What leads to agoraphobia?
Debilitating anxiety disorder that can keep sufferers from leaving their homes. While the root cause is not fully understood, experts believe that genetics and environment may both play a role. Some possible causes include:
- Having a family member with or another anxiety disorder
- Experiencing a traumatic event, such as being assaulted or witnessing a violent act
- Being the victim of an assault or other violent act
- Having a traumatic brain injury or surgery
- Being depressed
- Being involved in a car accident
- Having a medical condition that causes migraines
- Using heroin, cocaine, or amphetamines
- Having multiple sclerosis
- Being held hostage
- Having chronic asthma
- Having multiple miscarriages
- Having cancer
- Experiencing extreme emotional distress
What are the signs and symptoms of agoraphobia?
Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by a fear of open or public places. People with agoraphobia often avoid situations in which they might feel trapped, helpless, or embarrassed. Triggered by a number of different circumstances.
The most common triggers include:
- Being on an airplane when the cabin doors close
- Being trapped in a crowd
- Being outside alone
- Seeing or hearing something that frightens you
How is agoraphobia treated?
Agoraphobia is a debilitating disorder that can keep people from leaving their homes. While the cause of the disorder is unknown, it is believed that genetics and environment may both play a role. Treatment for agoraphobia typically includes a combination of therapy and medication. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often used to help people understand and change their thinking patterns and behavior.
Medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may also be prescribed to help reduce symptoms. Some people find that self-help strategies, such as relaxation techniques or journaling, also useful in managing their agoraphobia.
Agoraphobia treatment also involves a combination of treatment methods: therapy, medication and lifestyle changes.
A therapist can help you work through your fears. Using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a mental healthcare provider can help you recognize thoughts that cause you anxiety. Then you will learn ways to react more productively.
Using relaxation and desensitization techniques, your provider may have you imagine a scary situation and manage the feelings. Eventually, you will be able to take part in activities that produce anxiety, and you will know how to manage your emotions. Over time, therapy can train the brain to think differently.
Your healthcare provider also may suggest medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Those medications can treat depression and anxiety disorders.
You can manage with lifestyle changes:
- Avoid alcohol, drugs and caffeine (coffee, tea and soda, for example).
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
- Exercise regularly.
- Practice breathing exercises.
In a psychotherapy appointment, a person works with a therapist to address the causes and symptoms of their anxiety. In the process, the person can find new ways of facing their fears.
The person may learn:
- New ways of facing the situations that trigger their symptoms
- New ways of managing stress and symptoms of agoraphobia
- Techniques for managing fear, such as deep breathing exercises
- To help a person overcome their fear, a therapist may start by walking a short way from home with them and gradually increase the distance over time. This can provide a safe way to confront unwanted feelings.
- Initial treatment may take place online or by telephone, making it unnecessary for the person to leave their home.
- Friends and loved ones can also help by learning about agoraphobia, showing understanding, and encouraging the person to take new steps as they feel ready.
How can you reduce your risk of agoraphobia?
There is no proven way to prevent agoraphobia. However, it is easier to manage in its earlier stages. The more you avoid situations, the more fearful you may become. Some people with severe symptoms are unable to leave their home at all and are totally dependent on others for help.
Agoraphobia can also lead to other health problems if left untreated, including depression, alcohol or drug abuse and other mental health disorders. These are reasons why it’s important to seek mental health help early.
How can agoraphobia be prevented?
It is difficult to say for certain how agoraphobia can be prevented. It may be that some cases are preventable, while others are not. There are a few key things that may help to prevent agoraphobia from developing in the first place.
- First, it is important to get help if you are feeling anxious or panicked. Seeing a therapist or counselor may be helpful in identifying and managing any underlying issues that may be contributing to your anxiety.
- Additionally, practicing relaxation techniques and stress-management skills can help to keep your anxiety levels under control.
- Finally, it is important to build a support network of friends and family members who can offer you encouragement and support when needed.
How can you learn to cope with agoraphobia?
Take good care of yourself, take your medications as prescribed and practice techniques you learn from your therapist. And don’t allow yourself to avoid situations and places that spark anxiety. The combination can help you do things you enjoy with less fear.
Many people avoid talking about anxiety disorders. Agoraphobia can make you feel afraid and isolated. But with treatment, you can manage the symptoms and lead a full life. If agoraphobia or any anxiety disorder affects the way you live your life, call your healthcare provider. An open, honest conversation can lead to the help you need to live a full life.
What is the outlook for people with agoraphobia?
About a third of people with agoraphobia overcome the disorder and become symptom-free. Another half learn to manage their symptoms better but still have some anxiety.
You and your loved ones will need to have patience as you heal from agoraphobia. Many people need 12 to 20 weeks of CBT (talk therapy) if they also take medication. Without medication, therapy might take up to a year.
How do you stop being agoraphobic?
You can also take these steps to cope and care for yourself when you have agoraphobia:
- Stick to your treatment plan. Take medications as directed.
- Try not to avoid feared situations
- Learn calming skills
- Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs
- Take care of yourself
- Join a support group
Does agoraphobia ever go away?
Outlook. Around a third of people with agoraphobia eventually achieve a complete cure and remain free from symptoms. Around half experience an improvement in symptoms, but they may have periods when their symptoms become more troublesome.
Is agoraphobia related to PTSD?
The hyper vigilance of a person diagnosed with PTSD is much like the state of anxiety one feels fearing the effects of yet another panic attack. In both cases, severe anxiety can force the person into avoidance as a means of survival. Both disorders can create “agoraphobia.”
How do you calm someone with agoraphobia?
Steps to help ease Agoraphobia:
- Practice Patience
- Don’t Trivialize the Person’s Feelings and Experiences
- Help Your Friend Create An Anxiety Plan
- Be a Support System
- Regularly Check-In
- Encourage Them to Seek Professional Treatment
Does exercise help agoraphobia?
Take regular exercise, exercise can help relieve stress and tension and improve your mood. Have a healthy diet. A poor diet can make the symptoms of panic and anxiety worse. Avoid using drugs and alcohol. They may provide short-term relief, but in the long term they can make symptoms worse.
What is best medicine for agoraphobia?
SSRIs are typically considered first-choice treatments for agoraphobia. They are also used to treat depression and anxiety disorders (including panic disorders). A few examples include Fluoxetine (Prozac), Citalopram (Celexa), and Escitalopram (Lexapro).
Agoraphobia is a fear of open or public places. It can be treated with a combination of therapy and medication. The prognosis for agoraphobia is good, with most people recovering completely. However, some people may experience relapses after treatment. Therefore, it is important to stay on top of your treatment plan.