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Agoraphobia

Overview
Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder in humans, where the sufferer feels excessive fear and avoids a place or situation that causes panic and makes him embarrassed, trapped, or helpless. These situations include, when using mass transportation, in crowds, or in line. Open spaces such as bridges and parking lots, as well as closed spaces such as shops and cinemas also make people with agoraphobia worry. Most agoraphobia disorders develop after sufferers experience one or more panic attacks.

If forced to go to public places, agoraphobia sufferers feel the need to be accompanied by people they trust, such as family members or close friends, because they don't feel safe.

Symptoms
Symptoms of agoraphobia sufferers can be grouped into three types, namely:
  • Physical symptoms, usually only appear when the patient is in a situation or environment that triggers anxiety. The physical symptoms of agoraphobia include heart rate and breathing becoming fast, feeling hot and sweating, feeling unwell, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, diarrhea, trembling, dizziness, tinnitus, and feeling faint.
  • Cognitive symptoms, namely the feelings or thoughts of patients who can be associated with physical symptoms. Some cognitive symptoms of agoraphobia, among others, are the fear that panic attacks experienced will threaten life and make it look like a fool. If a panic attack occurs, the sufferer feels that he cannot escape the situation. Patients also feel afraid of losing sanity, self-control, and being the center of attention of people around him.
  • Behavioral symptoms, such as avoiding vulnerable situations, cause panic attacks, such as being in public transportation, lines, or in crowds. The sufferer also avoids leaving the house or cannot leave the house for a long time, and needs a trusted person to accompany him anywhere.
Causes and Risk Factors
Until now, the exact cause of agoraphobia has still not been found. Agoraphobia generally develops as a complication of panic attacks. This is due to avoidance and excessive fear of panic attacks. Biological factors (health and hereditary conditions), nature and behavior, environmental stresses, and life experiences contribute to the development of agoraphobia.
Some other factors besides panic disorder that can increase a person's risk of developing agoraphobia are:
  • Agoraphobia can begin to be felt while still a child, but generally only felt when someone enters the transition phase from adolescence to adulthood. Usually before reaching the age of 35 years.
  • Suffering from a phobia. Apart from panic disorder, agoraphobia can be triggered by excessive fear (phobias) of something.
  • Have experienced a traumatic event, such as torture or family death.
  • Having an easily anxious and nervous nature.
  • Have family members who suffer from agoraphobia.
Diagnosis
If the patient is suspected of suffering from agoraphobia, the diagnosis is taken based on:
  • Symptoms and clinical signs in patients.
  • In-depth interviews with patients, carried out by doctors, psychologists, or psychiatrists.
  • Physical examination, to identify other causes.
Treatment and Prevention
Some treatment steps that can be taken to overcome agoraphobia are:
  • Patients will be helped by a psychologist or psychiatrist to learn to reduce symptoms of anxiety. Examples of therapies that can be done are cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy.
  • Consumption of medicines. Doctors will also prescribe antidepressant drugs or anti-anxiety drugs to relieve symptoms of anxiety.
There are no definite steps to prevent agoraphobia. However, anxiety tends to increase if the patient avoids the feared situation. If you suffer from agoraphobia, practice to overcome and control the fear of a place. Invite family members or friends to go together to the feared place.
Complications
If you don't get immediate treatment, this agoraphobia disorder can limit the sufferers' daily activities. Even sufferers can feel scared to leave the house for years. Some of the complications that can be experienced by agoraphobia sufferers are:
  • Alcohol and drug dependence.
  • Other mental disorders, such as anxiety disorders or personality disorders.
  • Depression.

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