The fear of crowds is called Agoraphobia and it is defined as an anxiety disorder related to open spaces, crowds, or uncontrolled social conditions. A distressing disorder, in severe cases of agoraphobia sufferers can eventually become housebound, unable to venture outside their home for fear of suffering an uncontrollable panic attack.
Agoraphobia is one of the more common phobias and the symptoms usually materialize between the ages of 20 and 40. For reasons that are as yet unexplained, the condition is far more common in women than men.
In many cases, agoraphobia rapidly becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. The fear of crowds is called agoraphobia and the sufferer usually becomes frightened of a particular place or social situation because they fear the onset of a panic attack, which means inevitably they often do end up experiencing a panic attack. In time, the patient becomes so fearful that they avoid every known place or situation that might trigger the same frightening response.
The condition can become extremely debilitating if left untreated and sufferers of agoraphobia will often go to great lengths to avoid the places or situations where they have experienced a panic attack in the past. Once the condition is so severe that the patient becomes housebound, it is not uncommon for some people to refuse set foot outside their home even in the event of a medical emergency.
What Causes Agoraphobia?
Agoraphobia is commonly linked to other anxiety disorders. It can also be the by-product of living in a stressful environment as well as substance abuse: patients who develop a dependency to tranquilizers and sleeping pills are more likely to show the symptoms of agoraphobia. There is also a proven link between problems with spatial awareness and agoraphobia.
There is also a strong link between the symptoms of agoraphobia and panic attacks: patients prone to panic attacks can develop agoraphobia as a result of the irrational fear brought on by traveling to places where they fear being out of control, easily embarrassed, or unable to find help if necessary.
What are the Treatments Recommended for Agoraphobia Patients?
Research into the effects of agoraphobia has shown that exposure treatment can help patients suffering from many anxiety related conditions, including agoraphobia. Systematic desensitization therapy is also an effective treatment for agoraphobia, although patients find this easier to cope with if they are accompanied by a trusted friend. Other therapies known to have success in the treatment of agoraphobia include relaxation techniques and cognitive restructuring.
Many doctors also recommend that the patient takes antidepressant medications in conjunction with other types of therapy as research has consistently proven that a combination of the two is the most effective treatment for agoraphobia.
As well as the various types of therapy and prescription medications used for treating the symptoms of agoraphobia, many patients find that joining self help groups or online support groups to be of great benefit. Sharing problems and discussing their achievements with others who can empathize with the condition often enhances the effects of therapy and speeds up the recovery process. Taking regular aerobic exercise is also beneficial for agoraphobia sufferers.
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