Agoraphobia is a fear of open spaces, but it is an anxiety disorder that also includes anxiety and intense fear in any situation where escape might be difficult, or help might not be available. Agoraphobia is often associated with a fear of crowds, bridges, or being alone.
Anxiety disorder, which is agoraphobia, appears when the fear does not disappear, on the contrary – it tends to get worse as time passes. Can happen attacks of anxiety, in which there are panic attacks and sudden feelings of terror. The sick person, may feel lonely, have a sense of detachment from others and have concerns about open spaces.
In agoraphobia, anxiety appear in some specific for a particular individual place from which it ‘s hard to get out, places in which the patient feels embarrassment, helplessness, feels trapped – these are the most crowded locations, bridges, public transport or unknown, far from home regions.
People suffering from the disorder often need the help of an accompanying person to be able to go to public places, and it happens that they are not even able to leave the house.
Causes of agoraphobia
So far, the cause of agoraphobia is unknown, but it is believed that certain areas of the brain that are responsible for controlling the fear response, may play a significant role in its emergence. The reason for the disease may also be a variety of environmental factors, but also is suspected the genetic factors, since there are indications that relatively common anxiety disorders occur within the family.
Agoraphobia may appear as a result of one or more panic attacks, which arose in the sick person the fear of potential situations that can lead to panic attacks in the future. Not without significance remain is here other disorders or phobias.
The symptoms of agoraphobia
Agoraphobia can manifest itself as a combination of various fears, feelings, and physical symptoms. A person suffering from this disorder is restless, afraid to leave the house, as well as:
- afraid to be alone,
- afraid to stay in crowded places,
- feels the fear of open spaces,
- afraid to be in places where escape might be difficult as public transport or lift,
- fear of losing control in public areas,
- afraid of death.
The person suffering from agoraphobia chance events prey feelings like helplessness, loneliness, excessive excitement, loss of control, as well as the perception that the body or the environment around are untrue.
Among the physical symptoms of agoraphobia can occur chest pain, general discomfort, dizziness, palpitations, shortness of breath, exploitation, trembling, upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea, chills or feeling of choking.
Experiencing a panic attack, the behavior of a person suffering from agoraphobia change dramatically. Such a person may try to avoid situations where there may be further attacks, and it becomes sad, depressed, have suicidal thoughts, and in some cases may abuse alcohol and other drugs.
Diagnosis and treatment of agoraphobia
Agoraphobia is often diagnosed after a conversation with the doctor, who assesses symptoms. May be needed, the descriptions of the patient’s behavior, provided by relatives. Physical examination will help to evaluate and possibly exclude states that potentially could be causing the symptoms.
Agoraphobia usually requires treatment in the form of psychotherapy combined with medications. Most people with agoraphobia after adherence to recommended, feeling much better, although the procedure is not easy, especially if the sick person has gained support after an extended period of living in fear.
Among the drugs most frequently used medications are antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, as these can help in the treatment of anxiety attacks. Can also be used other types of antidepressants, but these can be an increased risk of side effects.
Popular in the treatment of disease are also anti-anxiety drugs – benzodiazepines – sedatives, which can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety in the short term. Pharmacological treatment most often begins with higher doses, which are gradually being reduced.
Psychotherapy helps the patient to feel and function better, but equally important is the support of family and loved ones.