Agoraphobia-Symptoms and Causes

Agoraphobia is an intense fear of being in a situation where you’re unable to escape or get help if things go wrong

 Many people assume agoraphobia is simply a fear of open spaces, but it’s actually a more complex condition.

Someone with severe agoraphobia may be unable to leave the house, whereas someone who has mild agoraphobia may be able to travel short distances without problems.

Symptoms-Agoraphobia

The symptoms of agoraphobia can be broadly classified into 3 types

  • physical
  • cognitive
  • behavioral

Physical symptoms of agoraphobia

  • rapid heartbeat
  • rapid breathing (hyperventilating)
  • feeling hot and sweaty
  • feeling sick
  • chest pain
  • difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • diarrhea
  • trembling
  • dizziness
  • ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • feeling faint

Cognitive symptoms of agoraphobia

Are feelings or thoughts that can be but aren’t always, related to the physical symptoms.

  • a panic attack will make you look stupid or feel embarrassed in front of other people
  • a panic attack will be life threatening – for example, you may be worried your heart will stop or you’ll be unable to breathe
  • you would be unable to escape from a place or situation if you were to have a panic attack
  • you’re losing your sanity
  • you may lose control in public
  • you may tremble and blush in front of people
  • people may stare at you

There are also psychological symptoms that aren’t related to panic attacks, such as:

  • feeling you would be unable to function or survive without the help of others
  • a fear of being left alone in your house (monophobia)
  • a general feeling of anxiety or dread

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Leaving home alone
  • Crowds or waiting in line
  • Enclosed spaces, such as movie theaters, elevators or small stores
  • Open spaces, such as parking lots, bridges or malls
  • Using public transportation, such as a bus, plane or train

These situations cause anxiety because you fear you won’t be able to escape or find help if you start to feel panicked or have other disabling or embarrassing symptoms.

In addition:

  • Fear or anxiety almost always results from exposure to the situation
  • Your fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual danger of the situation
  • You avoid the situation, you need a companion to go with you, or you endure the situation but are extremely distressed
  • You experience significant distress or problems with social situations, work or other areas in your life because of the fear, anxiety or avoidance
  • Your phobia and avoidance usually lasts six months or longer

Causes

Health conditions and genetics — temperament, environmental stress, and learning experiences may all play a role in the development of agoraphobia.

Another theory is an imbalance in levels of neurotransmitters in the brain that can affect mood and behavior. This can lead to a heightened stress response in certain situations, triggering feelings of panic

There may be a malfunction in parts of the brain known to generate both the emotion of fear and the corresponding physical effect fear can bring. They may be generating strong emotions of fear that trigger a panic attack.

Leave a Reply