Agoraphobia is a mysterious and potentially debilitating disorder. Its most well known symptom involves fear of being in open spaces. However, sufferers may exhibit one or a combination of many other psychological, physical, or behavioral symptoms. As a result of these symptoms, people suffering from agoraphobia can be quite misunderstood and have difficulties with personal relationships and functioning in normal daily life.
People with agoraphobia come from all walks of life and cultures. They include our family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors. Onset of the condition usually occurs in young adulthood and affects women more than men. Perhaps you even know someone who has it.
Causes of Agoraphobia and Symptoms
The causes for agoraphobia are not conclusively known. It may have genetic factors or be the result of some emotional trauma, such as abuse or exposure to stressful situations. For example, people diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are more in danger of developing agoraphobia symptoms. Based on the most recent statistics from The National Institute of Mental Health about .8% or roughly 1.8 million US adults 18 and older evidence agoraphobia symptoms.
It should be noted that while agoraphobia and panic attacks are closely related conditions, on rare occasions one can occur without the other. According to published reports nearly 95% of agoraphobia sufferers will experience panic attacks at some time along with other agoraphobia symptoms. Conversely, roughly 1/3 of people with diagnosed panic attacks have an accompanying agoraphobia diagnosis.
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...port and Intervention
Mental health professionals state that agoraphobia is under-reported due to the stigma associated with mental health issues. Suffers often do not wish to draw attention to themselves so they hide or cover their symptoms when possible. It is often up to family members to help the agoraphobia sufferer seek intervention.
Once intervention is in place, family is asked to support and encourage the sufferer's treatment plan. Family members may even be invited to participate in therapy with their loved one. This facilitates the patient's progress in overcoming the disorder's affects. Many sufferers learn to manage their symptoms and eventually eradicate triggers for them. Others are able to greatly improve their control over their symptoms. With the right treatment and support, prognosis for recovery from agoraphobia is possible.
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