Agoraphobia Is A Mental Disorder – Symptoms, Treatment And Prognosis

Agoraphobia is a mental disorder that makes a person avoid any type of situation where they will feel anxiety when put in certain situations, especially in public.  Those who suffer from agoraphobia will do everything that they can to avoid situations where they will feel anxiety or suffer from a panic attack. 

The result is that many people with this disorder will isolate themselves from others.  They may become homebound and fear leaving their house due to being put in a situation that they cannot control.  A person who has agoraphobia may be afraid of interactions with other people, as well as places or things that may trigger a panic attack. 

Those who have this illness may fear for their safety while outside of their home or other place that they feel comfortable. It is common for those who have agoraphobia to fear and avoid particular places, such as elevators, retail stores, or malls, and especially places that are overcrowded.

People who have agoraphobia may also fear being outside if this puts them in an anxious situation.  Agoraphobia is typically an illness that a person has in addition to having some type of panic disorder. Panic disorders and agoraphobia are not considered extremely rare, although it is rare to have agoraphobia without a panic disorder.

Symptoms – Agoraphobia

Studies have shown that agoraphobia typically develops in a person who has suffered from a panic disorder in the past.  Agoraphobia may develop when the person has a fear that it will happen to him or her again. 

After the initial panic attack, the person may go out of his or her way to avoid any situation that will bring about another attack.  Those who are in their teenage years and 20s are more likely to be stricken with agoraphobia, although it can affect anyone of any age. 

Women are more likely to develop the disorder than men.  A person who has been physically or sexually abused may be more prone to developing this mental disorder.  Additionally, anyone who has been diagnosed with a panic disorder has increased odds of developing agoraphobia.

Typical symptoms of agoraphobia include a fear of certain places.  The most commonly feared places are those that are crowded or a place where a person feels trapped, such as in an elevator or on a plane.  A person with agoraphobia may fear being alone when they leave their home or other comfort zone. 

Those suffering from agoraphobia may only fear certain places (such as anywhere that a panic disorder has occurred), or they may fear leaving their home at all, leaving them stuck inside.  A dependence on others may occur if a person does not feel comfortable leaving his or her room. 

He or she can become isolated from loved ones, no longer be able to enjoy his or her favorite activities outside of the home, or even affect his or her ability to attend school or hold a job due to the overwhelming feelings of panic that he or she experiences.  A person with agoraphobia may also feel strong feelings and symptoms of anxiety when taken out of his or her comfort zone.

Panic disorder is also associated with this mental illness.  Signs of panic disorder include feeling extremely anxious, feeling lightheaded or dizzy, and difficulty breathing.  Thoughts and feelings may lead a person with agoraphobia and panic disorder to believe that he or she is dying when hit with an attack.

Treatment

In order to begin treatment, a person who suspects that he or she is suffering from agoraphobia will need to be properly diagnosed by a doctor.  A physical exam is used to rule out other causes for the symptoms that a person is experiencing. 

A mental evaluation is then taken to rule out any other types of phobias or disorders.  Once a doctor determines their patient suffers from agoraphobia, a proper course of treatment can begin.

Medication for anxiety or depression is a common treatment method.  These medications can help a person feel more comfortable in the situations that cause a panic attack. Symptoms can be lessened by taking prescribed medications.

Many people who suffer from agoraphobia have found that counseling is a wonderful treatment option.  Cognitive behavioral therapy is quite commonly used with agoraphobia.  This treatment allows a person to speak with a counselor about his or her disorder and what triggers a response. 

The patient can learn more about what is causing him or her to have a panic attack.  He or she can then become more aware of what triggers each attack, allowing him or her to change behaviors that may make him or her more prone to feeling anxious.  Cognitive behavior therapy takes time to work through, but it can be very effective in helping a person overcome his or her agoraphobia.

Prognosis

Agoraphobia is not fatal, but it can be dangerous if left untreated.  Those who suffer from this disorder may find that their quality of life suffers greatly, as they may find themselves becoming isolated from the people and things that they love.  The fear that is associated with agoraphobia may cause a person’s personal relationship, job, or other aspect of his or her life to suffer greatly.

In addition to becoming more isolated, agoraphobia can lead a person to suffer from depression or extreme anxiety.  These mental disorders will then need to be treated with medications or therapy. 

It has been found that those who suffer from agoraphobia may turn to drugs and alcohol, especially when they have completely isolated themselves from others.  This is why anyone suffering from the symptoms of agoraphobia should begin a proper course of treatment immediately.

If you or someone you love feels extremely anxious in different settings and fear leaving your home, you may be suffering from agoraphobia.  It is important to get help for yourself or the person you love to ensure that you can begin the healing process. 

Leaving this disorder untreated will only cause it to get worse, so it is best to begin treating it immediately so that you or your loved one can begin living a full and rich life again.

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