Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder in which a person fears and oftentimes avoids situations and places that might cause them to feel helpless, panicked, trapped, or embarrassed. People that suffer from agoraphobia fear actual and anticipated situations, for instance being in crowds, or being in enclosed spaces. The anxiety associated with agoraphobia causes a fear that there is no way to seek help or escape a situation if serious anxiety occurs. For many, the condition is so severe that it requires agoraphobia treatment.
People tend to develop agoraphobia after suffering from one or more panic attacks. These attacks cause them to fear another attack occurring in the place where the first occurred. Agoraphobics generally have difficulty feeling safe in any public spaces where crowds may gather. Fears can become so overwhelming that people suffering from agoraphobia may feel that they are unable to leave their home. Treatment can be difficult because it often means confronting the fears that cause the anxiety, but is possible.
Symptoms of Agoraphobia
There are some typical symptoms that agoraphobics exhibit before they receive agoraphobia treatment. Symptoms include the fear of being in crowded spaces, sense of helplessness, fear of being alone in situations, and inability to leave your home. In addition to the symptoms associated with agoraphobia, because it causes severe anxiety, agoraphobics may also exhibit symptoms of a panic attack. These include excessive sweating, rapid heart rate, trouble breathing, chest pressure or pain, dizziness, numbness or tingling, and upset stomach.
Panic attack symptoms can also include sudden chills, fear of dying, and feeling a loss of control. Agoraphobia can cause severe limitations in a person’s ability to work, socialize, and manage details of everyday life such as running errands. Anyone exhibiting symptoms of agoraphobia should contact a health care provider for help.
Causes of Agoraphobia
While we don’t know what causes agoraphobia, there are some theories as to the causes. Many believe that agoraphobia occurs due to stressful environment, the presence of other anxiety disorders, and substance abuse. The chronic use of benzodiazepines has been linked to agoraphobia. Panic disorder is also thought to be a cause of agoraphobia, in addition to experiencing stressful or traumatizing life events. Agoraphobia will normally occur before the age of 35 but can also develop in older adults.
Women tend to be diagnosed with the condition more often than men. Agoraphobia risk actors include a tendency to be anxious or nervous, experiencing events such as the death of a loved one, abuse, or being attacked, and having a blood relative that has suffered from the condition.
Effects of Agoraphobia
Agoraphobia can put a serious limit on a person’s everyday activities. When agoraphobia is severe, a person may not even be able to leave their home. If treatment is not sought, agoraphobics can become housebound for long periods of time; even years. Sufferers may not be able to go to work or school, visit with friends and family, or partake in normal everyday activities.
Agoraphobics often become very dependent on others for help. The condition can co-occur with other mental health disorders, and can lead to depression. It can also lead to or co-occur with drug or alcohol abuse. Sufferers may try to use alcohol or drugs in order to cope with fear, isolation, and other factors.
When a client presents symptoms of agoraphobia, a qualified healthcare provider holds an in-depth interview to determine the diagnosis. Agoraphobia treatment can begin when a medical professional identifies it in a patient’s case. Treatment generally includes a combination of medication and psychotherapy. It can take some time for treatment to have its effect but it can eventually help agoraphobics get better.
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, provides a way to reduce symptoms of anxiety while working with a therapist. Cognitive behavioral therapy in particular is one of the most effective forms of therapy for treating agoraphobia and other anxiety disorders. In addition to psychotherapy, medications can treat some of the symptoms of agoraphobia.
There are several different medications that medical professionals can prescribe when treating agoraphobia. Many professionals prescribe anti-depressants, as well as anti-anxiety medications. Patients normally use anti-anxiety medications on a short term basis, while antidepressants use occurs over a longer period of time.
Mental Health Treatment at Morningside Recovery
In addition to agoraphobia, Morningside Recovery treats many other mental health disorders. Our facility handles many dual diagnosis cases and looks at the ways substance addiction and mental health feed into each other. Some of the conditions we treat include:
To learn more about mental health rehab at Morningside Recovery, call us today at 855-631-2135. Our trained staff members are ready to work with you and teach you healthy coping skills that you can use for life.