What is agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia is a particular type of anxiety disorder where you fear and avoid situations or places resulting in panic and make you feel trapped, helpless, or humiliated. You fear a real or expected situation, like being in enclosed or open spaces, standing in line, using public transport, or being in a crowd.

Most people with agoraphobia develop it after they have one or more panic attacks. The anxiety is due to fear that there is no simple get help or way to escape if the anxiety intensifies.  They get worried about having another attack and prevent the places where it can happen again.

People with agoraphobia can have trouble feeling safe in any public place, particularly where crowds gather. You may believe you will need a companion, like a relative or friend, to go with you to public areas. The fear can be so intense that you might feel unable to leave your dwelling.

Agoraphobia treatment can be challenging since it typically means facing your fears. But with integrative therapies, you can escape the snare of agoraphobia to live an enjoyable life.

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Agoraphobia symptoms

Signs and symptoms of a panic attack include the following:

Chest pain or pressure

Lightheadedness or dizziness

Rapid heart rate

Excessive perspiration

Sudden flushing or Illness

Trouble breathing or a feeling of choking

Feeling shaky, numb, or tingling.

Upset stomach or nausea

Feeling a loss of control

Fear of dying

Typical agoraphobia symptoms have a fear of:

Crowds 

waiting in a line

Enclosed spaces, such as small shops

Leaving home alone

Open spaces, such as parking lots, airports or bridges

Using public transport, like a plane or train

These situations cause stress because you fear you won't have the ability to escape or find help if you begin to feel panicked. You encounter significant distress or problems with social situations, work or other areas in your life because of the fear, anxiety or avoidance Your anxiety and avoidance normally lasts six months or more

Panic disorder and agoraphobia

Some individuals have a panic disorder, along with agoraphobia. Panic disorder is yet another type of anxiety disorder where you experience unexpected attacks of intense fear, which reach a peak in a few minutes and trigger severe physical symptoms (panic attacks). You might believe that you're totally losing control, having a heart attack, or even dying. Fear of another panic attack may cause avoiding similar conditions or the location where it happened to prevent future terror attacks.

See a doctor

Agoraphobia can severely restrict your ability to socialize, work, attend important events, and handle everyday life details, like running errands. Do not let agoraphobia get the better of you.

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Causes & risk factors

Reasons

Biology may play a role in agoraphobia development. Agoraphobia can start in childhood, but usually begins in the late teen or early adult years, generally before age 35, but older adults may also develop it. Women are diagnosed with agoraphobia more frequently than men are.

Risk factors for agoraphobia include:

Having anxiety disorder or other phobias

Responding to panic attacks with extreme anxiety

Experiencing stressful life events

With an anxious or nervous temperament

With a blood relative with agoraphobia

Complications

Agoraphobia can greatly restrict your life's actions. If your agoraphobia is severe, you might not even have the ability to leave your dwelling. Without treatment, some folks become housebound for ages. It may be hard to also visit with family and friends, go to work or school, run errands, or get involved in other normal daily activities. You may become dependent on other people for assistance.

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Prevention

There is no sure way to prevent agoraphobia. But, anxiety tends to grow the longer you avoid situations that you fear. Should you begin to have mild anxieties about going places that are secure, attempt to practice visiting those areas repeatedly before your fear becomes overwhelming. If this is too tough to do by yourself, ask a relative or friend to go with you, or seek expert help. If you experience anxiety visiting places, or have panic attacks, get treatment as soon as possible. Get help early to keep symptoms from becoming worse. Stress, like many other mental health conditions, can be more difficult to treat if you wait.

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Treatment

Agoraphobia treatment generally includes both medication and psychotherapy. It could take a while, but treatment can help you to get better.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy means working with a therapist to set goals and learn practical skills to decrease your anxiety symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a good type of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders, including agoraphobia. Normally a short-term therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on teaching you specific skills to better endure anxiety, directly challenge your worries, and slowly return to the activities you have avoided due to anxiety. Through this procedure, your symptoms improve as you build on your initial success.

You can learn:

What factors can trigger a panic attack or panic-like symptoms and what makes them worse

The best way to Deal with and endure symptoms of stress

Ways to immediately challenge your worries, like the likelihood of bad things happening in social situations

Your anxiety gradually reduces if you stay in scenarios and that you can handle these symptoms until they do

How to alter undesirable or unhealthy behaviors through desensitization, also known as exposure therapy, to safely confront the places and situations which cause anxiety and anxiety You might wonder how you could possibly visit a therapist's office for those who have trouble leaving your house.

If you feel homebound due to agoraphobia, start looking for a therapist who will help you find alternatives to office appointments, at least in the first part of therapy. You might choose to have a trusted relative or friend to your appointment to offer comfort, assistance, and coaching, if necessary.

See: Anti Anxiety Diet to Reduce Stress

Natural treatments for agoraphobia

Learn Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques are self-explanatory strategies that could help relieve your feelings of stress. These techniques can help out with relieving strain throughout the body and relaxing some nervousness of their mind.

Relaxation techniques can be readily learned from home and at your own pace. Start practicing these strategies to control anxiety attacks, reduce negative thoughts, and evoke your relaxation response.

- Lower Your Stress

Stress can be a significant source of anxiety. Stress has been proven to contribute to a lot of physical and mental health issues. Furthermore, too much stress can trigger some of your symptoms. To lower your anxiety and anxiety symptoms, find out some stress management methods.

- Practice Desensitization

Desensitization is a favorite coping technique that may be discovered on your own or during treatment. It includes using your creativity to help overcome triggers related to your panic attacks and feelings of anxiety. Desensitization works by slowly helping you unlearn your fears. Desensitization starts by gently imagining yourself in anxiety-provoking scenarios while learning how to relax through your feelings of apprehension.

While picturing yourself in situations or places that typically trigger anxiety attacks, you may use a relaxation technique to solve your fears and anxieties. Over time, you might visualize yourself in feared situations and feel in control of your anxiety. By learning how to relax through panic-inducing visualizations, you will eventually have the ability to decrease anxiety and avoidance behaviors.

Complementary & alternative medicine

Certain herbal and dietary supplements claim to have calming and anti-anxiety advantages. Before you choose any of them for agoraphobia, speak to your physician. These supplements may be available without a prescription but pose potential health risks.

The herbal supplement kava, also known as kava, seemed to be a promising treatment for stress, but there have been reports of severe liver damage, despite short-term use. The US FDA has issued warnings but not prohibited sales in America. Avoid using any product which contains kava until more-rigorous security studies are done, particularly if you have liver problems or take other medications that affect your liver.

Coping and support

Living with agoraphobia can make life hard. Professional therapy can help you overcome this disorder or handle it efficiently, so you don't become a prisoner to your fears. You can also take these measures to cope and care for yourself when you have agoraphobia:

- Stick to your treatment program and take medications as directed. Communicate regularly with your therapist. Consistency can make a significant difference, especially when it comes to practicing skills and taking your medicine.

- Try not to avoid feared situations. It's tough to visit areas or be in cases that make you uncomfortable or cause anxiety symptoms. But practicing visiting more and more areas can make them less frightening. Family, friends, and your therapist can support you and work with it.

- Learn calming skills. Working together with your therapist, you can learn how to calm and soothe yourself. Yoga, meditation, massage, and visualization are simple relaxation methods that also may help. Practice these techniques when you aren't stressed or stressed and then put them into action during stressful conditions.

- Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs. Also, limit or avoid caffeine. These chemicals can worsen your anxiety or anxiety symptoms.

- Take care of yourself. Get sufficient sleep, be physically active each day, and eat a nutritious diet, including plenty of veggies and fruits.

- Join a support group. Support groups for individuals with anxiety disorders can allow you to connect to other people facing similar challenges and discuss experiences.

See: Beat Depression with Meditation

References

1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15769-agoraphobia

2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/agoraphobia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355987

3. Gloster AT, Hauke C, Höfler M, et al. Long-term stability of cognitive-behavioral therapy effects for panic disorder with agoraphobia: a two-year follow-up study. Behav Res Ther. 2013 Dec;51(12):830-9.

4. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml

5. https://psychiatryonline.org/pb/assets/raw/sitewide/practice_guidelines/guidelines/panicdisorder.pdf

6. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/agoraphobia/treatment/

7. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/agoraphobia.shtml

8. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/anxiety-disorders

9. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Treatment Revision. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association, 2000.

10. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association, 2013.

11. Magee, W.J., Eaton, W.W., Wittchen, H.U., McGonagle, K.A., and Kessler, R.C. Agoraphobia, simple phobia and social phobia in the National Comorbidity Survey. Archives of General Psychiatry 53(2): 159-168, 1996.

12. McLean, C.P., and E.R. Anderson. "Brave men and timid women? A review of the gender differences in fear and anxiety." Clinical Psychology Review 29 (2009): 496-505.

13. Bienvenu, O.J., Onyike, C.U., Stein, M.B., Chen, L., Samuels, J., Nestadt, G., and Eaton, W.W. Agoraphobia in adults: incidence and the longitudinal relationship with panic. The British Journal of Psychiatry 188: 432-438, 2006.

14. Biondi, M. and Picardi, A. Increased probability of remaining in remission from panic disorder with agoraphobia after drug treatment in patients who received concurrent cognitive-behavioral therapy: a follow-up study. Psychotherapeutic Psychosomatics 72(1): 34-42, 2003.

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