Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder that is characterized by intense fear of being in situations, such as crowded places like shopping malls or metro stations, where escape can be seemingly difficult or help might not be readily available.

Prevalence

The average age of onset of agoraphobia is 17 years old, and in two thirds of cases, before the age of 35. Women are four times more likely to be diagnosed with agoraphobia than men.

Stressful or traumatic events can contribute to the development of agoraphobia. People who have a family history of adjustment disorder are at increased risk of developing this condition.

Symptoms of Agoraphobia:

People with agoraphobia who find themselves in stressful situations can develop the physical and psychological symptoms of a panic attack.

Physical

  • Palpitations (an awareness of the heart beating faster than usual)
  • hyperventilating (rapid breathing)

Psychological

  • a sense of impending doom and loss of control
  • avoidance of situations that will trigger the anxiety symptoms
  • adoption of “safety behaviors” such as shopping online rather than going out to the supermarket

Diagnosing Agoraphobia:

For a diagnosis of agoraphobia to be made, the symptoms must be present for at least six months.

Agoraphobia complications:

The most common complications of agoraphobia are:

  • Depression
  • Substance use disorders
  • An increased risk of suicide

Treatment for Agoraphobia:

Treatment options available for agoraphobia can include:

  • Talking therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Medication such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
  • Systematic desensitization or gradual exposure therapy – can be highly effective in the treatment of adjustment disorder

Symptoms of Agoraphobia:

People with agoraphobia who find themselves in stressful situations can develop the physical and psychological symptoms of a panic attack.

Physical

  • Palpitations (an awareness of the heart beating faster than usual)
  • hyperventilating (rapid breathing)

Psychological

  • a sense of impending doom and loss of control
  • avoidance of situations that will trigger the anxiety symptoms
  • adoption of “safety behaviors” such as shopping online rather than going out to the supermarket

Diagnosing Agoraphobia:

For a diagnosis of agoraphobia to be made, the symptoms must be present for at least six months.

Agoraphobia complications:

The most common complications of agoraphobia are:

  • Depression
  • Substance use disorders
  • An increased risk of suicide

Treatment for Agoraphobia:

Treatment options available for agoraphobia can include:

  • Talking therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Medication such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
  • Systematic desensitization or gradual exposure therapy – can be highly effective in the treatment of adjustment disorder
Source Medline Plus