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    Agoraphobia

    • Overview

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      Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder where individuals fear and avoid certain places or situations that may trigger panic. This may cause them to feel trapped, helpless, or embarrassed. These situations can include using public transportation, being in open or enclosed spaces, standing in line, or being in a crowd. The fear is mainly caused by the belief that no easy way out or help is available if the situation becomes overwhelming. Individuals may avoid these situations due to the fear of getting lost, falling, experiencing diarrhea, or being unable to get to a bathroom.

      Most people who develop agoraphobia usually do so after experiencing one or more panic attacks. This causes them to worry about having another attack and eventually avoid the places where it may happen again. Agoraphobia can make it difficult for individuals to feel safe in any public place, especially where crowds gather and in unfamiliar locations. They may feel they need a companion, such as a family member or friend, to go to public places. In severe cases, individuals may feel unable to leave their homes.

      Agoraphobia treatment can be challenging as it requires individuals to confront their fears. However, with proper treatment, including cognitive-behavioural therapy and medication, individuals can overcome agoraphobia and live a more enjoyable life.

    • Symptoms

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      Have you ever felt afraid of leaving your home alone or being in crowded places? Or you may get anxious in enclosed spaces like movie theatres or elevators or open areas such as malls or parking lots. Public transportation like buses, planes or trains might also cause you anxiety. These situations can make you feel like you won’t be able to escape or find help if you start panicking. You might also fear experiencing other symptoms like dizziness, fainting, falling or diarrhea.

      If this sounds like you, you might be experiencing agoraphobia. Some common signs of agoraphobia include feeling scared or anxious even when there’s no real danger, avoiding situations that make you feel uncomfortable, needing someone to be with you, or being upset for a long time after experiencing them. This can lead to distress in other areas of your life, like social situations or work. If you’ve felt this way for over six months, it might be worth talking to a professional for help.

    • When to see a doctor

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      Agoraphobia can significantly restrict your capacity to engage in social activities, work, attend significant events, and even handle daily errands. Don’t allow agoraphobia to shrink your world. If you experience symptoms of agoraphobia or panic attacks, contact your healthcare provider or a mental health expert for assistance.

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    • Causes

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      The development of agoraphobia may be influenced by factors such as biology, including health conditions and genetics, as well as personality, stress, and learning experiences.

    • Risk factors

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      Agoraphobia may arise during childhood, but it typically manifests during the late teenage or early adult years, usually before age 35. However, even older adults can develop this condition. Females tend to be diagnosed with agoraphobia more frequently than males.

      Risk factors for agoraphobia include:
      Having panic disorder or other excessive fear reactions, called phobias.
      Responding to panic attacks with too much fear and avoidance.
      Experiencing stressful life events, such as abuse, the death of a parent or being attacked.
      Having an anxious or nervous personality.
      Having a blood relative with agoraphobia.

    • Prevention

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      There is no foolproof way to prevent agoraphobia, but avoiding situations that cause fear can increase anxiety. If you feel mildly anxious about visiting safe places, try to go there regularly. This can help you feel more at ease. If you find it challenging to do this alone, ask a family member or friend to accompany you or seek professional assistance.

      If you experience anxiety or panic attacks while going to places, seek medical assistance as soon as possible. Getting treatment early can prevent symptoms from worsening. Delaying treatment for anxiety or other mental health issues can make treating it more challenging.

    • *Please note that the information provided in the article is for reference purposes only. It is essential to consult a doctor before applying any of the suggestions mentioned.

    Content Details

    Medical info from Mayo Clinic, for reference only. Visit Hoan My for better advice.

    Last updated on: 14/08/2023