​Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by a fear of certain environments and situations.  It's normal for people to feel anxiety in some situations, but people with Agoraphobia can struggle with situations such as leaving the house, standing in line, or being in other crowded situations.  When someone with Agoraphobia thinks about, or actually enters a public place, they typically experience significant distress and often panic symptoms such as rapid heartrate and breathing, excessive sweating, and fear of losing emotional control.
Diagnostic Criteria

* Marked and disproportionate fear when confronted with at least two different situations, such as open spaces, public transport or crowded arreas

*An immediate anxiety response such as a panic attack when exposed to the phobic stimulus

*Recognition of the fear as disproportionate

*Avoidance behaviors, distress or anticipatory anxiety that significantly disrupts normal routine, relationships, occupational or social activities

*Symptoms recorded for at least six months across all age groups

​*No other underlying condition that my explain the symptoms 
Symptoms

Individuals with agoraphobia typically avoid places and situations in which they've experienced or feel likely to experience overwhelming anxiety and panic.  Symptoms may include:

*Fast, pounding heart

*Sweating, trembling, shaking
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*Breathing problems

*Dizziness or feeling faint

*Fear of dying

*Avoiding places that may be difficult to escape from

*Refusing to leave the house

​*Being afraid of losing control in public

 
Treatment

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT helps patients to restructure their alarming and panic inducing thoughts about the situations trigger their overwhelming anxiety.  CBT will also help patients to gradually tolerate increased exposure to the anxiety provoking situations. 

Medication:  Medication can be used to treat agoraphobia.  It can be helpful in decreasing the intensity of the anxiety symptoms and reducing the fears to a more manageable level.

Behavioral Strategies:  Patients can learn behavioral management techniques such as meditation, relaxation, mindfulness and dietary changes



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