The diagnosis of agoraphobia is often accidental while screening for some other emotional or medical problems.
Symptoms are the best indicators of the disease. Differential diagnosis is based on physical and psychological examinations.
The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders gives the criteria for the definitive diagnosis of agoraphobia.
Patients with this condition show fear of two or more of the following situations:
Public transportation like buses and trains
Using elevators, small rooms, or theaters
Waiting in line
Going out of the house without anyone else
Going to open areas like parking spaces, or large malls
The reason for anxiety stems from the feeling of inability to escape from a situation or to getting help from friends and family.
Although the situation is not as harmful or stressful as perceived, exposure may result in distress or a panic attack.
They tend to avoid these stressful situations for more than six months.
Medications and psychotherapy are the two major treatment lines for agoraphobia.
Psychotherapy – this method helps to reduce the anxiety symptoms when exposed to a trigger. Counseling helps teach skills to avoid anxiety and to face the situations that were previously avoided. Cognitive therapy helps to understand more about the factors that initiate panic attacks or anxiety, and to reduce the fear of these situations. Exposure therapy is used to desensitize the person towards anxiety triggers and help them face the stressful situations without much distress.
Medications – anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants are used to relieve the symptoms. Paroxetine, tricyclic antidepressants and fluoxetine are commonly used antidepressants to control agoraphobia. Anti-anxiety medications like benzodiazepines are recommended to relieve symptoms of anxiety.
6 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies
Many alternative and homeopathic remedies are suggested in the treatment of agoraphobia. However, most of these alternate remedies do not have ample scientific evidence and have many serious side effects.
Aconitum Napellus is a common homeopathic prescription for controlling anxiety disorder.
Gelsemium Sempervirens is used to control symptoms like trembling and palpitations.
Argentum Nitricum is used to prevent anxiety attacks.
Lycopodium Clavatum is used to improve the fear of public places and being in a crowd.
7 Lifestyle and Coping
Professional care is very important for the patient and his/her family to cope with Agoraphobia.
Being compliant with the treatment options and being relaxed help patients to face the triggers more confidently.
Taking care of overall health and avoiding drugs and alcohol is equally important.
8 Risks and Complications
There are several risks and complications of Agoraphobia.
This condition restricts one’s activities considerably.
The patient tends to become very dependent on others for normal tasks.
Other mental disorders, depression, and isolation may develop as a result of agoraphobia.
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