Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder, which consists of the fear of experiencing difficult or embarrassing situations. Agoraphobics experience severe panic attacks in situations where they are too far from their comfort zones. They will confine themselves to their homes. In severe cases, an agoraphobic may even confine themselves to only one or two rooms of the home. Some becoming bed bound.
Agoraphobics can often be extremely sensitized to their own bodily sensations. Over-reacting to what would be a perfectly normal event. Increased heart rate and breathing from a normal activity that would cause these reactions from the body, can send an agoraphobic into a full-blown panic attack.
There are some misconceptions associated with Agoraphobia. One of the misconceptions with agoraphobia is that an agoraphobic fears open spaces. The reason for this misconception is the fact at agoraphobia is an English adoption of the Greek words agora and phobos. This translates as “a fear of the marketplace”. Another misconception of agoraphobia is that it is a fear of crowded places. This also is not true with an agoraphobic. An agoraphobic is fine with having visitors and entertaining people in their home. As long as they are in their comfort zones and agoraphobic does just fine around people.
Depression is a totally different disorder than agoraphobia but it is often associated with agoraphobia. A person with agoraphobia is at risk of experiencing depression during more than 50 % of the disorder.
Agoraphobia can be treated in many cases successfully with a gradual process of graduated exposure therapy along with cognitive therapy. In some cases a doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety and antidepressant medication to help with the treatment of agoraphobia.
Medication is helpful in the treatment of agoraphobia but they are not as a cognitive and exposure therapy in the short term. Medication has a higher rate of relapse in the long term. One Cross National Collaborative Panic Study found that at the end of a year treatment with the antidepressant imipramine and the benzodiazepine alprazolam, only 24% of people were panic free.
There are mistakes that an agoraphobic can do during therapy that can hinder recovery. One is to spend a large amount of time in therapy focusing on the past. Instead they need to focus on things that are in their power to change. Also an agoraphobic can rely too much on medication to fix their phobia. This can set an agoraphobic up for a relapse.
If you believe that you are suffering from any form of agoraphobia consult your doctor. If you have been diagnosed with agoraphobia speak with a doctor that you trust to find a treatment form that will work for you. With hard work and the right treatment plan you can overcome agoraphobia.