Phobias are afraid of being trapped in places where they cannot escape. Or you won’t be able to get help if something goes wrong.
The word agoraphobia originated from the two Greek words “now”, which means “meet” or “encounter”, and “Phobos” means “fear” or “unusual fear”. So it means being afraid of places where people gather. It was re-used to describe “fear of open space”, but now its meaning has been further expanded.
The term refers to a group of phobias that often overlap in definition. They include phobias, such as fear:
- Leave this house
- Enter the store
- Crowds and public places
- Travel alone by train, bus or plane
What are the symptoms?
People with phobias experience physical and mental symptoms like everyone else. For anxiety and panic, what distinguishes agoraphobia from others are behavioral symptoms, collectively referred to as behavioral symptoms. “Avoid” includes:
- Stay away from open spaces, crowded places and public transportation.
- They can only leave the house for a short time, for example, if they can leave the house.
- Need a friend to travel away from home
- Don’t be too far away from home.
Some people with phobias may force themselves to go to certain places. Mentioned above, but they still have the anxiety and fear of panic disorder.
What are the causes?
In most cases of agoraphobia, the person will experience panic attacks in certain places or situations. Because of this, they are afraid of being attacked again. The panic attack will come back when they go to the same place or nearby. Because they create fear in the brain. Worried about frequent panic attacks? It’s like a vicious circle: a panic attack—fear of a panic attack—causes another panic attack, and so on. The end result is that this person will avoid these places in the future.
On the other hand, some phobias do not have a history of panic attacks in certain locations.
This type of agoraphobia is usually caused by many irrational fears.
The diagnosis of agoraphobia is mainly based on symptoms. Initially, a mental health professional will conduct a detailed examination of signs and symptoms through interviews with patients. Sometimes a physical examination or other related laboratory tests are required. Rule out the possibility of panic symptoms (such as hyperthyroidism or drug use)
According to DSM-5, the specific conditions of agoraphobia are as follows:
- Using public transport
- To be in the open
- To be confined
- Standing in line or in a crowd
- Being alone outside the house
The experience of fear in two or more situations is necessary for accurate diagnosis of agoraphobia. In addition, the diagnosis must have been in existence for at least 6 months.
What is the treatment?
There are different treatments. This usually varies with the extent of the disease. The therapeutic interventions commonly used to treat agoraphobia are as follows:
- Self-help skills When you are indoors or in public, one way to control your emotional response to fear and panic is to increase the risk of these situations and learn how to control symptoms. Learn to practice deep breathing. Calm yourself down Try to use creative visualization to counteract negative urges. It’s best not to fight a panic attack. Instead, focus on how to relax. Most people with agoraphobia have lost the ability to relax and need to learn several relaxation techniques.
2. Lifestyle changes It is best to avoid caffeinated beverages because they have a stimulant effect and can cause panic attacks and anxiety. Drug and alcohol abuse can make your condition worse. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet can also help you avoid foods that make you more anxious. Exercising a lot can also reduce stress and improve your mood.
3. Cognitive and behavioral therapy This agoraphobia therapy promotes positive behaviors in response to panic and anxiety symptoms. This process helps break the cycle of fear and panic attacks through behavior changes, leading to more positive behaviors and emotions. Cognitive behavioral therapy is usually performed by practitioners who set goals for each treatment, usually in conjunction with exposure therapy.
4. Medications for certain severe cases require medications to control panic attacks and anxiety. It is generally recommended to combine medications with cognitive behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly used to treat depression and mood disorders.. Sertraline is the most common type of SSRI prescription. Pregabalin and benzodiazepines are other drugs suitable for the treatment of agoraphobia.
There are many treatments for agoraphobia that can help control panic and anxiety symptoms. This can range from self-help methods to treatment by therapists, which can effectively relieve symptoms and slow the progression of panic attacks.