Q. What is Agoraphobia?
Ans – Agoraphobia is an Anxiety disorder. It refers to the fear of or anxiety regarding places from which escape might be difficult. Agoraphobia can develop with the presence or even absence of panic disorder. The most incapacitating of the phobias, agoraphobia can greatly impact a person’s capacity to function in social and professional settings away from home.
Q. What are the common symptoms of Agoraphobia?
Ans – The common indicators of Agoraphobia comprises of fear of open spaces and of related factors such as the presence of crowds and the difficulty of immediate easy escape to a safe place (usually home). Patients of Agoraphobia experience fear of entering shops, crowds, and public places. They also fear traveling alone in trains, buses, or planes. People experience extreme anxiety and get into a habit of avoidance behavior wherein some patients become completely housebound. Patients are terrified by the thought of collapsing and being left helpless in public. They prefer to have a friend or a family member with them on busy streets, crowded shops, closed areas (such elevators, bridges, and tunnels), and closed vehicles (e.g., subways, buses, and airplanes). Some patients may demand to be accompanied whenever they leave the house.
Q. Why does Agoraphobia happen?
Ans – Agoraphobia happens due to various factors including Biological, Genetic & Psychosocial factors.
Numerous biological abnormalities in the structure and function of the brain are linked to the symptoms of agoraphobia. The imbalance of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and serotonin can lead to agoraphobia.
First-degree relatives of patients with agoraphobia have a higher chance of developing the disorder. According to various studies monozygotic twins have a higher likelihood of having panic symptoms than dizygotic twins do.
According to the research, the unconscious meaning of stressful events is likely to be the cause of symptoms, and the pathophysiology of the attacks may be connected to neurophysiological elements that are triggered by the psychological reactions.
Q. What is the treatment for Agoraphobia?
Ans – Agoraphobia is a treatable disorder. The treatment comprises of both medical and psychological aspects. Patients show drastic improvement in the symptoms with medicines and psychotherapy. The treatment helps to reduce the present symptoms and also prevents relapse.
Psychotherapy includes relaxation training, exposure therapy, insight oriented psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy and family therapy.
Relaxation training aims to give patients a sense of control over their levels of stress and anxiety. Patients learn strategies that may aid them in surviving a panic situation through the use of standardised procedures for muscle relaxation and the imagining of relaxing situations.
Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing a patient to the stimuli they are afraid of, such that eventually they grow desensitised to it.
Insight oriented therapy aims to educate patients about the potential unconscious significance of their anxiety, the symbolism of the avoided circumstance, the necessity of impulse control, and the secondary gains of their symptoms.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps the patients identify their false beliefs and assumptions and replacing them with alternative positive thoughts.
Family therapy focuses on helping the family understand the condition and provide support.
Q. Can Agoraphobia be cured?
Ans – Yes, Agoraphobia can be cured with the combination and regular followup of pharmacological and psychological treatments. Even when patients with agoraphobia have their symptoms medically managed, they frequently still feel hesitant to venture outside again and may need psychosocial therapies to help them overcome these concerns. In order to understand and overcome their resistance to pharmacotherapy, some patients stubbornly refuse any medicines because they feel that doing so stigmatises them as having a mental illness. In these cases, psychotherapy intervention is necessary. These patients need a multifaceted and efficient treatment plan that includes both suitable medication and psychotherapy techniques.