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What is 'agoraphobia'?


Larina Kase (President, Performance And Success Coaching) gives expert video advice on: What is 'agoraphobia'?; What are the symptoms of agoraphobia?; How did I develop agoraphobia? and more...

What is 'agoraphobia'?

Agoraphobia is the fear of open places, it's usually the fear of being outside of your house, and typically it's associated with panic disorder. This means that people are afraid that they'll have a panic attack in a place from which they can't escape, so they'd rather stay home where they'd feel more comfortable.

What are the symptoms of agoraphobia?

The primary symptom of agoraphobia is withdraw, staying in your house, not wanting to go out, not going places. Often it can be not wanting to go over bridges, or go into elevators, or be in crowds, those are really commonly feared situations that agoraphobics experience.

How did I develop agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia develops because when you're afraid of something and you avoid it, in the short term you feel a little bit better. So if you're afraid of going out and you stay home in the short therm you feel better. The problem is over the long term you start to avoid it and it become a vicious cycle, kind of snowballs and then eventually people can't ever leave their houses at all.

Are agoraphobics really just 'control freaks'?

Agoraphobics are not control freaks. Basically, they're trying to control these panic feelings that they have which are really, really horrible for them to experience. Unfortunately, the way that they're trying to control it is by staying calm. Ultimately, that doesn't work for them. It keeps them feeling afraid.

Can agoraphobia lead to other disorders?

Agoraphobia can lead to other disorders because basically what you are doing is you are isolating yourself. You are staying home and the more you avoid something the more you become afraid of it. So agoraphobia can lead to social anxiety because you are not getting out there in social situations. It can also lead to depression because you are not active and lack of activity can lead to depression.

What's the relationship between panic disorder and agoraphobia?

People who have panic disorder may or may not have agoraphobia. So some people have panic disorder yet they still go out and they go places. If you have panic disorder and you're not going out and going places, you are avoiding a whole bunch of activities. That's when you have agoraphobia.

Do agoraphobics ever need to be hospitalized?

To treat agoraphobia sometimes you need to be hospitalized because you might not be able to get yourself into your treatment, so if it's hard for you to go out it might be hard for you to go to your therapy appointments, and if you're agoraphobias severe then hospitalization is definitely an option.

Does agoraphobia get worse over time?

Agoraphobia, like any anxiety, gets worse over time because the more you avoid something, the harder it becomes to do it, so the more you avoid going out the harder it then becomes to go out, so absolutely it can snowball over time.

Should I force an agorophobic to face their fear?

You should never force an agorophobic or anybody with any anxiety to face their fears, because there going to release and its going to damage your relationship. They're not going to look at you as being supportive, and they're gonna look at you as being mean. So instead encourage them to get the treatment, get the help that they need and then encouraging them to do the things that they are afraid of- in a way that it's laid out of their treatment plan.

What kind of treatment works best for agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia is very well treated with cognitive behavioural therapy. This is really really effective for panic disorder and for agoraphobia and often is actually short term. It might be in as little as 15, 16 sessions people get cured of panic disorder and agoraphobia.

How long does it take to overcome agoraphobia?

Well there's a great resource online for people with anxiety and Agoraphobia and that's the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, and that's at www.adaa.org.