Agoraphobia: Causes, Symptoms, Types and Treatments

Agoraphobia: Causes, Symptoms, Types and Treatments

Although agoraphobia means fear of open spaces. But the term more specifically describes the fear of getting caught without a practical and simple way to escape, in case you have an anxiety attack.

The agoraphobic tends to avoid potentially anxious situations, such as leaving home, using public transportation, shopping or playing sports, among others. This is a serious problem in his life since he rarely leaves his home and in doing so has great anxiety as a result of panic.

This disorder consists of intense fear and anxiety about being in places. Where it is difficult to escape or where help could not be available. Agoraphobia usually involves fear of crowds, bridges or being alone in outdoor spaces.

Causes of agoraphobia

The exact causes that cause agoraphobia are unknown. The origin depends on each particular case. Although most of the time agoraphobia triggered when the patient has had a crisis of anguish and begins to be afraid of the possible situations that could lead to another similar episode.

symptom of agoraphobia

When you have agoraphobia, you avoid places or situations because you don’t feel safe in public places. Fear is worse in crowded places.

Agoraphobia symptoms include:

  • Feeling afraid of being alone.
  • Feeling afraid of losing control in a public place.
  • Dependence of others.
  • Feelings of separation or distancing from others.
  • Feeling that the environment is unreal.
  • Having unusual temper or agitation
  • Feeling that the body is unreal.
  • Stay in the house for extended periods
  • Feeling afraid of being in places where escape could be difficult.
  • Feelings of hopelessness

Physical symptoms may include:

  • Chest discomfort or pain
  • Suffocation
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Nausea or another upset stomach
  • Accelerated heart
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sweating
  • Tremor

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Types of agoraphobia

The American Psychiatric Association classifies agoraphobia in:

  • Panic disorders with agoraphobia.
  • Agoraphobia without a history of panic disorder.
  • Panic disorder without agoraphobia.

Some specialists can also classify this pathology according to the different situations that can be seen in an agoraphobic person:

Panic attack in an agoraphobic situation: In this situation, the attack is predictable and is caused by an external stimulus. The patient has had attacks in the same situation. The patient believes that there is a good chance of suffering again. Which increases his fear and, in the end, ends up having the attack.

Predictable panic attack in a safe situation: The patient predicts that he will have an attack because he is very emotionally active.

whether because of joy, stress, sadness, anger or worry. So he avoids having high levels of emotion.

Unpredictable panic attack in a safe situation: Panic is triggered when the person is in a qualified place, according to their criteria, as safe.

In this case, the stimulus is internal. His body interprets certain physiological functions or vital bodily changes that the person performs.

Misunderstands them catastrophically and generates a great deal of anxiety that eventually ends with an episode of panic.

Panic attack in advance: The patient assures that he will suffer an attack when exposed to the anxiety trigger stimulus. Which causes him to suffer an attack before he has been exposed to the stimulus.

Tests and exams

The health care provider will evaluate your history of agoraphobia. They get a description of the behavior from you, your family and your friends.

Treatment of agoraphobia

The goal of treatment is to help you feel and perform better. The success of the treatment generally depends, in part, on the severity of agoraphobia. Treatment often combines psychotherapy with medicine. Certain medicines used to treat depression may be useful for this disorder. They work by preventing symptoms or making them less severe. You must take these medicines every day. DO NOT stop taking them or change the dose without talking to your provider.

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are often the first antidepressant option.
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are another option.
  • Other medicines used to treat depression or medicines used to treat seizures can be tested.
  • Medicines called sedatives or hypnotics may also be prescribed.

These medicines should only be taken under the direction of a doctor.

Your doctor will prescribe a limited amount of these drugs. We recommend not to take it every day. They can be used when the symptoms become very severe. Or when you are exposed to something that always triggers your symptoms.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy. It involves 10 to 20 consultations with a mental health professional for several weeks. This therapy helps you change the thoughts that cause this condition and may involve:

Understanding and controlling feelings or distorted views of stressful events or situations.

Learning stress management and relaxation techniques

Relaxation and imagination of things that cause anxiety, working from the least to the most feared. This is called systematic desensitization therapy and exposure.

You may also be faced slowly with a real-life situation that causes fear to help you overcome it.

A healthy lifestyle that involves exercise, sufficient rest and good nutrition can also help.

Support groups

You can relieve the stress caused by panic disorder by joining a support group.

Support groups are generally not a good substitute for psychotherapy or medications. But these groups can be a good complement.

Resources that can provide more information include:

Anxiety and Depression Association of America –

Expectations (prognosis)

Most people can improve with medication or cognitive-behavioral therapy. Without timely and effective help, the disorder can become more difficult to treat.

Possible complications

Some people with agoraphobia may:

  • Consume alcohol or other drugs in an attempt to self-medicate.
  • Being unable to perform at work or in social situations.
  • Feeling isolated, alone, depressed or with thoughts of suicide.

When to contact a medical professional

Request an appointment with your provider if you have symptoms of agoraphobia.

Agoraphobia Prevention

No concrete measures to avoid agoraphobia but if you feel irrational fears or strong anxiety in certain situations. Healthzigzag recommends consulting a professional as soon as possible.

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About the Author: Usman Babar

A businessman by profession. blogger by luck. I love to write about Health and Fitness.