A. Marked fear or anxiety about two (or more) of the following five situations:
B. The individual fears or avoids these situations because of thoughts that escape might be difficult or help might not be available in the event of developing panic-like symptoms or other incapacitating or embarrassing symptoms.
C. Fear or anxiety that almost always results from exposure to a situation
D. Avoidance of the situation, needing a companion to go with you or endurance of this situation with extreme distress
E. Fear or anxiety that's out of proportion to the actual danger posed by the situation
F. Significant distress or problems with social situations, work or other areas in your life caused by the fear, anxiety or avoidance
G. Persistent phobia and avoidance, usually lasting six months or longer
Someone suffering from agoraphobia is someone who worries about certain situations. Their worry is so intense that they often work hard to avoid the situations that cause them anxiety. The anxiety that they experience over these situations is disproportionate to their danger.
The key feature of this disorder is having anxiety about having anxiety. It seems strange to say that but anxiety is a miserable experience, and in many people it even causes physical reactions, such as stomachaches or bowel problems. In many cases when an individual has bowel problems due to anxiety, they learn to fear anxiety itself because excusing themselves from social events due to bathroom problems is embarrassing. Eventually they get so worried and anxious that they are going to get anxious and need the restroom, that they avoid going into those situations altogether. Bowel issues is just one example of how agoraphobia progresses. This can also occur if someone gets sweaty in social gatherings and feels embarrassed about it, or any other negative response to anxiety.
Anxiety disorders are caused by our minds desire to prepare for the future. Being smart and emotional creatures, we have developed a benefit to understanding what “might” happen in the future so that we can be prepared for it. With agoraphobia, our minds have associated a certain situation with feeling miserable and it grows to the point of having intense fear and worry.
Psychotherapy or talk therapy is the only true form of “cure” for Agoraphobia.
Some medications can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety, but they are not a cure – talk to your primary care physician for more information. However, we recommend using medications in the treatment of general anxiety disorder only in combination with talk therapy.