What Is Agoraphobia?
Agoraphobia is the fear of leaving one’s home or safe area and venturing into the outside world. It is also found in combination with other phobias or obsessive-compulsive disorder. People suffering from agoraphobia usually have panic attacks when they feel unsafe, and these unsafe feelings include when the person is trapped, out of control, or too far from a personal comfort zone. Many people suffering from agoraphobia are confined to their homes or even to a specific room in their home.
There are many misconceptions surrounding people with agoraphobia. First of all, agoraphobia is not a fear of open spaces, nor is it a fear of crowded spaces. While these conditions may exist within a person as well, agoraphobia is specifically a fear of being too far from a normal area, regardless of the crowd. Many people welcome visitors into their home, even if they themselves do not leave. Agoraphobics usually simply need to be in complete control of a situation.
Agoraphobia can affect any person, regardless of gender, age, religion, race, ethnicity, or economic status. The disorder is about twice as common among women than among men, however. The conditions usually begins with generalized panic attacks or slight phobias, and develops into a more and more serious condition. Thankfully, treatment is available. A gradual process of exposure is usually recommended, along with anti-anxiety medication including benzodiazepines like alprazolam. Anti-depressants can also be used. Some therapists will make house calls to help patients with agoraphobia, and alternative treatments like hypnosis are becoming more and more popular in the medical world as a treatment for agoraphobia and other anxiety conditions.
A number of famous people have suffered from agoraphobia in the past, including celebrity chef Paula Dean, actress Kim Basinger, director Woody Allen, and Nobel laureate for literature Elfriede Jelinek. The key here, however, is to realize that there is hope. If you suffer from agoraphobia, ask for help and you can begin the healing process.
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