Phobia

Phobias can be a source of genuine and ongoing distress for an individual. It is more severe than a normal fear reaction.

Agoraphobia

Word agoraphobia is the combination of two Greek words “Agora” meaning market and “phobia” meaning excessive fear. Agoraphobia is a fear of open or public places and small places such as an elevator. It may also be caused by various specific phobias such as fear of open spaces, social embarrassment (social agoraphobia), fear of contamination (fear of germs, possibly complicated by obsessive-compulsive disorder), monophobia (fear of being left alone), and claustrophobia, (fear of feeling trapped in closed spaces). In severe cases, a person with agoraphobia will rarely leave their home. Many people with agoraphobia also have panic symptoms or panic disorder (trembling, heart palpitations and sweating).

Agoraphobia refers to avoidance or endurance with the dread of situations from which escape might be difficult or help unavailable in the event of a panic attack, or in the event of developing symptoms that could be incapacitating and embarrassing, such as loss of bowel control or vomiting. Typical people with agoraphobic situations avoid social events or public places include shopping malls, waiting in line, movie theatres, travelling by car or bus, crowded restaurants, and being alone.

How Agoraphobia Occur

Researchers currently believe agoraphobia phobia is caused by a combination of life experiences, brain chemistry, and genetics. If a person faces a similar event later on in life, the areas of the brain (amygdala) that deal with fear and stress keep retrieving the frightening event inappropriately retrieve the stressful memory, sometimes more than once. 

Physical Effects

The physical effects of these sensations can include; sweating, abnormal breathing, accelerated heartbeat, trembling, hot flushes or chills, chest pains or tightness, confusion and disorientation, nausea, dizziness, headache.

The First Agoraphobic Case

The first reported case of an agoraphobic woman who was severely agoraphobic to the extent that she did not leave her bed for many years. Continuous and gradual psychotherapy eventually improved her condition. Twenty years later she was able to leave her room which was a grand success for the doctors involved in her treatment. Agoraphobia can be a seriously debilitating mental condition and gradual treatment with regular follow-ups can improve the patient’s condition. This is true for all severe psychiatric illnesses. Regular appointments and follow up with proper care and management can improve the mental health of the patients irrespective of the severity of their symptoms.

Rate of Agoraphobia

In the general population, the 12-month prevalence estimate for panic disorder across the United States and several European countries is about 2% in adults and adolescents. Lower estimates have been reported for some Asian, African, and Latin American countries, ranging from 0.1 to 0.8. Agoraphobia affects about 1.7% of people. Across all studies, women are affected twice as often as men. Typically onset is around the age of 10 to 17. Rates become lower as people get older. Although panic attacks occur in children, the overall prevalence of panic disorder is low prior to 14 years of age. People with phobias are at a higher risk of suicide.

Treatment

Treatment of agoraphobia includes speaking to a psychologist or psychiatrist. The doctor, psychiatrist, or psychologist may recommend behavioural therapy, medications, or a combination of both. Therapy is aimed at reducing fear and anxiety symptoms and helping people manage their reactions to the object of their phobia. 

Hence it is the fear condition of open and public places; past events can be the reason of agoraphobia and can be treated through proper counselling. 

Submitted by “Munazza Noor