Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder whereby someone may experience intense fear and anxiety which is triggered by real or anticipatory situation. Examples of feared situations include, transportation, being in open or enclosed spaces, standing in line or being in a crowd. Often the amount of fear experienced is disproportionate to the presenting threat, there may also be a concern that there may not be an easy escape or someone may not be able to seek help, if required.
Symptoms: Agoraphobia is characterised by the following symptomology:
- Marked fear or anxiety
- Using public transport
- Open spaces (e.g. car parks)
- Enclosed spaces (e.g. shops)
- Standing in a line
- Being in a crowd
- Being outside the home
- Fear that a situation may be difficult to escape or may not be able to get help if panic-like symptoms develop
- The feared situation almost always induces a fear or anxiety response
- Leads to avoidance of situations
- Causes significant distress
- Symptoms are not better explained by another condition, such as another anxiety disorder or physical condition.
Treatment Options & Outcomes:
When looking to overcome the anxiety experienced due to agoraphobia, working with a psychologist experienced with anxiety disorders may be beneficial. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is one of the effective forms of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders, including agoraphobia. CBT focusses on psychoeducational to teach specific skills to return to enjoying activities which have previously been avoided because of the anxiety experienced. While one of the symptoms is becoming housebound, a psychologist may be able to first visit at your home and then progressively move to safer places, and then the therapy office. With early intervention anxiety disorder, including agoraphobia, have positive treatment outcomes with limited relapse.
American Psychiatric Association. DSM-5 Task Force, & American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5 (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.