Agoraphobia is the fear of situations from which it seems difficult to escape or where it may be difficult to get help if symptoms of anxiety develop.
Due to this anxiety disorder, the person avoids feared situations, endures them with great anxiety or needs to be accompanied in the face of them.
In this article we will analyze the symptoms and causes of this “fear of fear”.
How does agoraphobia manifest itself?
Agoraphobia is more common in women and in recent years its prevalence has increased. As for the age of onset, it usually occurs in adolescence, although cases can be found that begin at any age.
We can talk about different degrees of agoraphobia: there are people who do not leave the house and therefore totally avoid the feared situations, others who endure situations with great anxiety but face them alone and others who only leave the house if they are accompanied.
Most common feared situations
While everyone’s fears with agoraphobia may be very different from those of others, below we will describe the situations that are most commonly feared or avoided by people with this disorder.
Fear or anxiety is caused not only by the feared situations, but also by their such situations. This fear has to do with the inability to escape (Whether by physical restrictions or by social convention) and being alone.
1. Confined spaces
Among others, this category would include supermarkets and department stores, cinemas and theaters, classrooms, restaurants, parking lots, tunnels, elevators …
2. Open spaces
They can be interiors, such as stadiums, large halls and halls, or exteriors, such as courtyards, wide streets or the countryside.
3. Travel by means of transport
Many people with agoraphobia are afraid of having an anxiety attack while traveling by car, bus, train, boat, or plane. It is because they imagine that lit would be very difficult to escape from vehicles if their fears were satisfied; for example, having an anxiety attack in the middle of the freeway can be a mess.
Parties, meetings, nightclubs, malls, crossing bridges or queuing are some of the situations and places that people with agoraphobia often avoid. In these cases, the anxiety is largely caused by fear of being judged by other people.
5. Be alone
Fear of not being close to trusted people is common with agoraphobia be in a place that provides security, How can the house itself be; this is why being away from home is a fairly common agoraphobic fear. However, being left alone at home is another situation that is generally feared.
Symptoms and “catastrophic consequences”
In general, most people with agoraphobia suffer or have suffered from spontaneous panic attacks, that is, they happened without an apparent cause.
People with agoraphobia fear situations in which they consider they may suffer from symptoms of anxiety (panic attacks) and their possible catastrophic consequences. However, the fear of the consequences of anxiety is also irrational. anxiety attacks are not dangerous for those who suffer from it.
The most common anxiety symptoms in panic attacks are: Feeling of suffocation, palpitations, Dizziness, sweating, Legs insecure, tightness, chest pain or discomfort, abdominal discomfort, depersonalization (feeling separated from oneself) and unrealization (feeling unreal).
between the catastrophic consequences of symptoms that agoraphobics mistakenly anticipate that we find: fainting, heart attack, dying, screaming, losing control, going mad, throwing up, drowning, becoming trapped or helpless and being unable to get to a safe place, do not receive help if you experience symptoms of anxiety …
Causes of agoraphobia
When discussing the causes of agoraphobia, it is important to keep in mind that there are some personal characteristics that can predispose or be a result of this disorder: dependence, low assertiveness, low self-confidence, Social withdrawal, high anxiety, fear of negative evaluation, high approval search, ineffective strategies for dealing with stress, tendency to avoid problems instead of facing them …
Childhood experiences like overprotection or lack of affection may also be involved. Likewise, many people with agoraphobia claim to have been go through a stressful period at first of the same.
This stress can be related to work, a divorce, the death of a loved one, a couple or family conflict, an illness or an operation, a move, a birth or an abortion, among others. .
The origin of the “fear of fear”
Regarding the causes of fear, sometimes you have traumatic experiences outside of your home (like an accident, theft or fainting), others are seen suffering from a trauma or showing fear in a situation. data or the person receives information.
They can also incorrectly associate certain symptoms anxiety or panic at an external situation and so it becomes feared. For example, you may experience symptoms of anxiety after a work dispute and they occur more intensely when you travel by bus a few minutes later, mistakenly attributing traveling by bus.
Avoiding the dreaded situation scares you
Anticipating anxiety symptoms or their catastrophic consequences allows the person to avoid what they fear and, in turn, these Avoidance behaviors maintain anxiety expectations and danger because it is not checked to what extent the threat expectations are realistic or not.
In the long run, avoiding long-term dreaded situations can lead to depression, low self-esteem, increased dependence on others, reduced social contact, the onset of work and family problems, etc.