Agoraphobia Treatment

Agoraphobia Treatment

The term 'agoraphobia' includes a number anxiety disorder symptoms under its purview. Agoraphobia treatment deals with the identification and treatment of all these indications...
PsycholoGenie Staff
Are you scared of going to an unknown place? Do you feel paranoid at the thought of having to travel alone? Do you get the creeps when you find yourself at a crowded place full of unfamiliar faces? Do you feel vulnerable when you leave the secure precincts of your home? You're probably an agoraphobic if you've answered more than one of these in the affirmative. I mean, it's okay to feel slightly uncomfortable or nervous when traveling alone, or going to an unknown place for the first time - but every time? Well, that's certainly an issue. This article deals with agoraphobia treatment options that would tell you of ways to get rid of anxiety symptoms that are typical to this Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). However, before venturing towards the treatment part, let's get familiar with agoraphobia itself.

What is Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is the phobia or fear of the unknown - usually unknown places and settings. A person suffering from this phobia feels highly insecure and may display symptoms of extreme fear and paranoia when, on finding himself at a place or situation upon which, he has little or no control. For instance, such a person may feel exposed or vulnerable at a large or open space, say a shopping mall or an open stadium, and may feel that there is not enough opportunity for him to run anywhere nearby for taking cover! He may not have to take cover at all but the What If.. factor is so great in his case that he feels paranoid at the thought that he would not be able to hide, if the occasion arose, in such an open setting! Another variant may be when a person is afraid of going to unfamiliar places and travel alone. The same social insecurity, arising out of his distance from familiar surroundings, comes to play here and he feels vulnerable all the time. An extreme form of agoraphobia is complete reluctance to venture out of one's house and total avoidance of people! Those who have watched the movie Nim's Island must have, by now, identified Alexandra Rover (played to perfection by Jodie Foster) as the being the exact personification of agoraphobia! As such, causes, symptoms and treatment of agoraphobia fall under the purview of social anxiety disorder management.

Possible Causes of Agoraphobia

Although no specific cause can be attributed to the occurrence of agoraphobia, possible causes include high stress levels, presence of other social and anxiety disorders, extreme shyness and substance abuse. Spatial disorientation, owing to a weak vestibular system in most agoraphobics, is also a possible cause behind this phobia. Sometimes, a person with little or no prior contact with places other than his domestic or residential precincts may be so attached to his familiar surroundings that he may show signs of agoraphobia when made to venture out of his spatial comfort zone. This may be seen in case of prisoners serving very long and continuous sentences (without parole), who lose touch with outside world and feel disoriented for sometime on stepping out.

Treatment Plan for Agoraphobia

A treatment plan for agoraphobia may include psychological therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), prescription and administration of psychosomatic medications and alternative medicine therapies, or a combination of all three. CBT may involve systematic desensitization which forces the subject to face his fears in order to overcome them. Classical conditioning may also be helpful to enable the subject to shed his adverse reactions to typical, agoraphobia-inducing stimuli. Medications for treating this psychological condition may include antidepressants like MAO inhibitors, anxiety treatment medications such as SSRI and tranquilizing medications like benzodiazepine may be used in conjunction with psychological therapy for best results.

Alternative and natural treatment options for agoraphobia include hypnotism, Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, emotional freedom technique and stress management. Also, consuming natural herbal antidepressant substitutes such a St. John's Wort, dark chocolate, and stress busting remedies like chamomile tea can go a long way in easing agoraphobic tendencies. This also includes practicing relaxation techniques such as Yoga, meditation, aromatherapy, etc. These alternative techniques give excellent results, when used in conjunction with the traditional treatment methods.

That was a brief overview of agoraphobia treatment, facts and causes. Like with every fear, facing it is the best way to get rid of it! You may go through a list of all phobias and meanings to know more about various irrational fears and aversions. An ancient German proverb states that fear makes the wolf bigger than it is. True indeed. Facing your fears may not be so easy but it is up to you to decide whether you're willing to live with your fears all your life or whether you're going to show them their rightful place - out of your life!