AGORAPHOBIA- Overview, Facts, Types and Symptoms, etc.

AGORAPHOBIA

Agoraphobia is a condition that affects a quarter of the adult population worldwide. It is defined as having a sense of agitation when going to a particular place or gathering that entails having to mingle with several people or groups of people.

Individuals with this condition have had previous experience that made them feel confined in a particular place or mode of transportation with a sense of foreboding that they are unable to escape such a situation, thereby causing such trauma.

The anxiety caused by such a condition is lessened by having someone whom the person with agoraphobia trusts go with them in such places or events.

TYPES

Different types of agoraphobia include: 

  • Paranoid agoraphobia- co-existence of paranoia (feeling of always being in danger) and agoraphobia (feeling of helplessness usually occurring when a person is not comfortable of his surroundings)
  • Claustrophobia- Fear of being in an enclosed space resulting in an unwanted reaction to the individual. Some persons experience breathlessness, and others suffer syncopal attacks.
  • Disorganized agoraphobia- Individuals suffering from this condition experiences mix up of information relayed to the brain causing a completely different reaction from what is expected of them
  • Catatonic agoraphobia- Refers to an individual who is unable to move or utter a word in the face of a presumed dangerous situation. 
  • Enochlophobia- pertains to fear of being enclosed in a space with plenty of persons. 

SYMPTOMS

  • Rapid, shallow breathing that causes numbness and tingling of the upper extremities and hyperextension
  • Unexplained fear of being criticized between a large number of persons
  • Fear of not being able to control the forthcoming situation
  • Unsteady feeling
  • Sick on the stomach
  • Inability to formulate new ideas and lack of motivation
  • Presence of tremors, sweaty feet, and palms
  • Inability to swallow food and lack of appetite
  • Tinnitus
  • Loose bowel movement

DIAGNOSIS

There is no single specific test to diagnose agoraphobia but to arrive at the impression the clinician (psychiatrist) will make a thorough history taking on the following aspects:

  • Date of onset of symptoms
  • Precipitating or aggravating situations
  • Frequency of symptoms
  • Past medical history (to include possible medical problems such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma)

TREATMENT

A multi-disciplinary approach is necessary to address the symptoms of agoraphobia. Listed below are the treatment options:

  • Talking to your psychiatrist– This is one way that the patient can open up the cause of the agoraphobia and upon knowing this information, this will aid the clinician the appropriate treatment strategy
  • Medications to fight off depression– drug classes such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRI address the symptoms of the panic disorder associated with agoraphobia
  • Drugs that combat anxiety– Drug class benzodiazepines are used to calm the symptoms of anxiety but should only be used for a limited period since they promote dependence.

Utilizing alternative medicine– enrolling in a yoga class trains the patient to become calm, thereby avoiding panic attacks.

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