Agoraphobia: An Evolving Understanding of Definitions and Treatment
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The avoidance behaviors present in agoraphobia differ from the diagnostic criteria of a specific phobia. For instance, a person with agoraphobia may avoid traveling by airplane due to a fear of having a panic attack on a plane and not necessarily due to aerophobia , or a fear of flying.

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Similarly, an agoraphobic may avoid crowds, fearing the embarrassment of having a panic attack in front of a lot of people. Such a fear is not the same as social anxiety disorder , which is a separate mental health condition that involves anxiety about being negatively evaluated by others. Although rare, it is possible to be diagnosed with agoraphobia without having a history of panic disorder. When this occurs, the person still has a fear of being stuck in a situation where escape would be difficult or humiliating.

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However, they do not fear to have full-blown panic attacks. Rather, they are afraid of having some of the frightening physical symptoms of panic and anxiety or other intense physical issues, such as vomiting or having a severe migraine. For instance, the person may be afraid that they will lose control of their bladder in public or faint without any help being available. Approximately one-third to half of those diagnosed with panic disorder will also develop agoraphobia.

Agoraphobia with panic attacks. Development, diagnostic stability, and course of illness.

This condition typically develops in adulthood. However, agoraphobia can emerge earlier in adolescence. If a person does develop agoraphobia with panic disorder, symptoms typically begin to occur within the first year that the person starts having recurring and persistent panic attacks. Agoraphobia can get worse if left untreated.

For the best outcomes in managing agoraphobia and panic symptoms, it is important to seek treatment as soon as symptoms arise. Treatment options typically include a combination of both medication and psychotherapy.

Agoraphobia - symptoms -

The treatment process may include some systematic desensitization , in which the agoraphobic person gradually confronts avoided situations. Many times, the person will fare better in facing their fears if accompanied by a trusted friend. Through the support of family and friends and professional help, a person who is struggling with agoraphobia can begin to manage their condition.

Through medication and psychotherapy, a person with agoraphobia can expect to eventually experience fewer panic attacks, fewer avoidance behaviors, and a return to a more independent and active life. Learn the best ways to manage stress and negativity in your life. There was an error.

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Sarah's Story: Living with Agoraphobia and Panic Attacks

Thank you, , for signing up. A study 16 comparing CBT with SSRIs and SNRIs found that both treatments led to a significantly greater reduction in panic attacks, depression, and general anxiety than those experienced by the waitlist control group. However, CBT had a significantly greater decrease in avoidance, fear of phobic situations, and anxiety symptoms based on self-report scales. However, long-term studies of treatments that combine pharmacotherapy with CBT for panic disorder with or without agoraphobia have found little benefit for these combinations vs monotherapies.

CBT plays an important role even in patients who have opted for pharmacotherapy at several particularly critical points in therapy.

What causes agoraphobia?

He suggested that instead of advising patients to wait until the medication works to begin experimenting with going out, clinicians should encourage them to begin the anti-avoidance process immediately. Although ultimately, the ideal for patients is to be able to function independently, if they need to bring a family member of friend at first, they can do so, he said. Login Register.

4 Powerful Steps To Overcome Agoraphobia

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Selective serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. Duloxetine Venlafaxine.

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Tricyclic antidepressants. Calcium modulator. Lorazepam melting tablets as needed for acute panic attacks. Reversible monoamine oxidase A inhibitor.