Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder that is characterized by an intense feeling of fear in public places, where people are gathering, or even in enclosed spaces that seem to be overcrowded. While the condition is not logical, anyone who suffers from this condition cannot use logic to make their anxiety stop.
It is as if the people who feel this fear cannot escape, and their anxiety will only grow larger the more that they avoid things that scare them. People who are agoraphobic often develop this condition after a panic attack because they are very concerned about having another panic attack. The fear grows over time as the sufferer worries about all the places, scenarios, or conditions that could trigger them.
An agoraphobic patient will avoid public places, and they will not feel safe even if they are with someone they trust. It helps to have some accompany them on any outing, but it can be so intense that an agoraphobic person cannot leave their home. Just the thought of leaving the house and being outside with a lot of people is terrifying.
Someone who is agoraphobic could suffer from a range of symptoms. These symptoms do not need to all be present for this condition to be present. If you have noticed these issues in yourself or someone else, you cannot automatically diagnose the condition. However, it may be helpful to speak to a therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist who can help. Common issues related to this condition include:
- A fear of leaving the house by yourself
- Being afraid of standing in line by yourself
- Fear of any enclosed space like a movie theater, store, office, or even bathroom.
- A fear of parking lots, bridges, malls, docks, and boardwalks where people could suddenly gather at any moment.
- A fear of using any sort of public transit like trains, buses, or planes. Of course, the bus station, airport, or train station will be terrifying because it is either full or could fill up quickly.
These situations are scary for agoraphobic people because they feel like they cannot escape, reach out to someone for help, or protect themselves. Someone who is in a situation like this could cause many other problems such as shaking, crying, and weakness to the point that the sufferer needs to sit down.
Anyone who is agoraphobic also suffers from:
- Fear related to their exposure to the situation. This could be the idea of going into an open or crowded place, seeing a place like that on TV, or even planning a schedule that could take them to that place.
- The fear and anxiety that you feel are very out of proportion with the danger that you would be in. As mentioned above, this is not a logical condition, and people simply cannot use logic to solve the problem.
- These situations are distressing even if you go with a companion or avoid them because the very idea of being in a situation like this is scary.
- The issue can make it difficult to work and socialize to the point where you need to work exclusively in the home and avoid or even quit jobs when you need o to be out in public or a crowded office.
- The avoidance and fear lasts more than six months in most cases.
How Do Panic Disorders Intersect With This Condition?
Panic disorders and agoraphobic feelings are often co-morbid because a panic attack can be a big part of the agoraphobic experience. Someone who is overcome with anxiety could easily have a panic attack. In fact, a panic attack could be the reason that these agoraphobic feelings have intensified. For example, someone who had a panic attack at a crowded train station will feel as though another panic attack is coming on any time they go to a place that reminds them of that train station.
The fear that people feel forces them to avoid all situations that could cause a panic attack, and they will continue to isolate themselves for their own safety. This is especially significant because panic attacks are exhausting. People who are afraid of a panic attack are also afraid of the aftermath.
Because panic attacks could strike at any time, you need to understand how they come about. You can learn how to protect yourself by understanding these warning signs of a panic attack, addressing the situation, and learning coping techniques that will help you live your life normally. These warning signs could be ignored as situational issues, but they are often precursors to a panic attack:
- An accelerated heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing or the inability to swallow almost as if you are choking
- Chest pain or heaviness that you cannot explains
- A feeling of lightheadedness or that the room is spinning
- Shaking, trembling, or even numbness in your extremities
- Feeling flushed or having sudden chills
- A bad feeling in the pit of your stomach that makes you feel sick
- Feeling as though you are losing control of your life and the situation
- A sudden fear of death
When Should Patients Go To The Doctor?
If you feel that you are limited by the issues noted above, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor, a psychiatrist, therapist, or counselor for help.
How Do You Treat It?
You can be treated with therapy, medication, and an immersion program that is guided by a licensed professional. Someone who has sought out professional help should work with that professional over many years to learn how to manage their condition. People who do not seek help cannot manage this condition on their own.
What Is Life Like For Anyone Who Suffers From This Condition?
Agoraphobic warning signs might also be associated with conditions like:
- Personality and anxiety disorders
Anyone who has been diagnosed needs to know how their life can change because of their anxiety. These people might feel compelled to self-medicate, or they might be depressed because of their anxiety. These people might develop personality disorders because of their condition, and these patients must work with professional therapists or doctors to address these conditions.
Can This Condition Be Prevented?
There is no way to prevent this condition, but you should ask a friend or family member to help you if you need to seek professional care. That person can help you by taking you to appointments, and they can also help you with medication reminders, accountability, and support.
Do not allow the condition to get worse over time as you withdraw from society out do not seek out treatment.
How many suffer in the United States
0.9% of the population suffers from this condition, but the mental health establishment does not always notice this condition first. The condition may be preceded by panic attacks or other problems that will lead a mental health professional to this diagnosis.
What Is The Disability Rating?
This condition has been given a disability rating of 70%. This rating is very high because the condition can prevent sufferers from leaving their homes, maintaining gainful employment, and enjoying companionship.
What Causes This Condition?
Anyone who has this condition could have developed it for a number of reasons. Some risk factors for this condition include:
- A genetic predisposition to anxiety disorders or panic disorders
- Singular experiences that cause the condition to develop quickly such as panic attacks
This condition can start in your teens and 20s, and it usually starts showing itself before the age of 35. Also, women tend to be diagnosed with this condition more than men.
Agoraphobia is a serious condition that requires treatment and support. You should reach out to a medical professional as soon as possible for therapy, medication, and other forms of counseling.