Getting Help for Agoraphobia (Panic Disorder)

A thorough discussion about the real meaning of agoraphobia will unravel the truth that goes beyond its literal translation. The word itself is a combination of two Greek words, namely agora and phobos, which when combined means "fear of the market place". As such, it has been interpreted to mean that it is a phobia related to open or crowded places. However, this is not an accurate description of this condition.

Panic disorder is not merely your presence in a crowded area or finding yourself in a wide, open space, which will trigger your uncontrollable fear. Rather it involves your psychological makeup whenever you suffer a panic attack given a situation, which you believe does not allow you to escape or you are put in an embarrassing circumstance. A person afflicted with agoraphobia experiences severe anxiety and she must reach his/her comfort zone in order to calm down and feel secure.

Agoraphobia has been classified as an anxiety disorder that may or may not be accompanied by panic disorder. Clinical studies reveal that about 29% of the total number of people suffering from panic disorders moves on to developing agoraphobia. If detected early on and given the necessary treatment, the progression of panic disorder to agoraphobia may be prevented. The rate of women having agoraphobia compared to men is two to one, where gender and emotional capabilities are considered factors in its development. As to age, it is prevalent for those aged 17 to 40 years old.

In extreme cases, a person experiencing anxiety may find herself restricted at home. It is usually your home, which serves as your haven since it provides you with the belief that you have things in control and you are safe. Once you are out of your safety zone, you feel threatened and the anxiety begins to build. The symptoms associated with this phobia are unmanageable shaking, profuse sweating, shortness of breath, heart palpitations and the urge to run away to your security blanket. For some individuals, they seriously believe that they are going to die and may exhibit abnormal behavior in their desire to get away.

What will trigger an anxiety attack differs from one person to another. Studies relate this phobia to a biochemical imbalance in your brain. When you experience it the first time, whether you are in a grocery store, in a mall, inside a vehicle or somewhere else, you tend to associate that feeling with that place. Consequently, your logical reaction would to avoid going to those locations to prevent another attack. Your brain makes that connection, which can either be valid or not. To verify your conclusion, you ought to consult with a psychiatrist. It is possible that there are other underlying reasons, perhaps medical ones, why the panic attack happened in that time and place.

Dealing with agoraphobia is quite difficult for the person concerned as well as their family. Fortunately, treatments have been developed to address this health condition. Some of the remedies are quite successful in restoring the patient back to normal life and in overcoming the irrational fears.


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