Being afraid happens to everybody. It is not that uncommon to be afraid of environments that may be perceived as dangerous aren’t comfortable due to the fact that the environment is either very open or very crowded. Many people suffer from this affliction. This very common phobia, according to the phobia dictionary, is known as agoraphobia. Agoraphobia comes from the Greek word meaning “gathering place.”
A person suffers from agoraphobia will go to great lengths to avoid situations in which they know the space will be either exceptionally open or exceptionally crowded. This includes avoiding social situations altogether. A person who suffers from agoraphobia may also experience separation anxiety when specific individuals of their household leave from the residence even temporarily. When left alone, panic attacks or a feeling of anxiety can present itself even though they are in their comfort zone.
Frequently this disorder is also known as a social phobia as it is considered a type of a social anxiety disorder. While this is not always the case, agoraphobia can be compounded by the fear of social embarrassment which leads it to be considered a social phobia.
Those that suffer from agoraphobia will experience anxiety symptoms such as tremors, nausea, sweating, heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, or a feeling of not being in control. This anxiety can happen in environments in which the person is unfamiliar or in an area in which they had previously had a panic attack.
Approximately 3.2 million people between the ages of 18 and 54 suffer from agoraphobia. The onset of this disorder is usually between the ages of 20 and 40 years old. While it can happen in both men and women it is almost twice as common among women. There are several reasons for this distribution which may include social cultural traditions, greater expression of avoidant coping strategies, the fact that women are more likely to seek help and therefore be diagnosed. While research has not given a clear definitive answer on why women are twice as likely to be diagnosed agoraphobic a belief is that men may be more likely to abuse alcohol in reaction to the anxiety that they feel and are misdiagnosed as being an alcoholic instead of an agoraphobic.
While there is no clear-cut cause to what makes a person agoraphobic therapists believe that it is most likely due to the presence of another anxiety disorder, substance abuse, or stressful environment. Other researchers believe that acrophobia is an attachment deficiency through the temporary loss of the ability to tolerate separation from their comfort zone. Still some researchers believe that acrophobia may be an evolutionary phase and believe that it was once advantageous to avoid exposed open spaces without cover or concealment. Does it still suffer from agoraphobia simply never evolved past this stage.
There is no shame in being an agoraphobic. It is a condition that can be conquered be a treatment. But those who suffer from this condition should know that they are not alone. Several famous actors and actresses suffer from this condition. Some of those names include: Woody Allen, Macaulay Culkin, Kim Basinger, H.L. Gold, Earl Campbell, and Paula Deen.
This is a treatable condition. With the help of a psychotherapist patients who suffer from agoraphobia can overcome their problems. The psychiatric dictionary explains that the treatment for acrophobia includes cognitive behavioral treatments. Using exposure treatment to modify their behavior, patients can learn how to cope with feelings of fear and anxiety in crowded areas or open spaces. Systematic desensitization may also be used during treatment.
In order to effectively treat acrophobia, therapists may also prescribe medications to allow the patient to begin treatment more easily. Therapists may prescribe MAOIs, benzodiazepines, or antidepressants in order to help the patient calm their anxiety to begin to learn this techniques and skills they need to conquer their fears.