Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder. Agoraphobia is best understood as an adverse behavioural outcome of repeated panic attacks and subsequent anxiety and preoccupation with these attacks that leads to an avoidance of situations where a panic attack could occur. Phobia may arise by the fear of having a panic attack in a setting from which there is no perceived easy means of escape. Alternatively, social anxiety problems may also be an underlying cause (9).
Agoraphobia is extreme or irrational fear of open or public places (117). As a result, sufferers of agoraphobia avoid public and/or unfamiliar places, especially large, open spaces such as shopping malls or airports where there are few places to hide. In severe cases, the sufferer may become confined to his or her home, experiencing difficulty travelling from this safe place. Although mostly thought to be a fear of public places, it is now believed that Agoraphobia develops as a complication of panic attacks.
The first onset generally occurs early to mid twenties and in the early thirties thus helping to distinguish between simple phobias in child and adolescent years (76). In response to a traumatic event, anxiety may interrupt the formation of memories and disrupt the learning processes, resulting in dissociation.
Agoraphobia is a condition where the sufferer becomes anxious in environments that are unfamiliar or where he or she perceives that they have little control. Triggers for this anxiety may include wide open spaces, crowds (social anxiety), or travelling (even short distances).
Phobia is often, but not always, compounded by a fear of social embarrassment, as the individual fears the onset of a panic attack and appearing distraught in public.
Some people with agoraphobia have a fear of open spaces.
Agoraphobia is also a defined as “a fear, sometimes terrifying, by those who have experienced one or more panic attacks”. In these cases, the sufferer is fearful of a particular place because they have experienced a panic attack at the same location in a previous time. Fearing the onset of another panic attack, the sufferer is fearful or even avoids the location.
Some refuse to leave their home even in medical emergencies because the fear of being outside of their comfort area is too great. The sufferer can sometimes go to great lengths to avoid the locations where they have experienced the onset of a panic attack (9).
Agoraphobia is a symptom of panic disorder.
It can be a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder and post traumatic stress disorder (111).
Relaxation techniques are often useful skills for people with agoraphobia to develop, as they can be used to stop or prevent symptoms of anxiety and panic. Stress management techniques and various kinds of meditation practices as well as visualization techniques can help people with anxiety disorders (111).
It is vital that clients remain in the situation until anxiety has become less intense because if they leave the situation the phobic response will not decrease and it may even rise (9).
Counselling and psychotherapy may be provided via Skype and FaceTime in the comfort of your home, office or any place of your choice.