Guide To Diagnosing And Treating Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is a serious anxiety disorder that causes affected individuals to experience extreme fear of any situation in which they might feel embarrassed, helpless, or trapped. Some individuals develop agoraphobia after experiencing a traumatic situation they're afraid will recur, and some develop agoraphobia in addition to an already-existing anxiety disorder like generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder. The exact situation a patient fears varies widely depending on the individual. Some of the most common situations include being in enclosed spaces, being in open areas, being in crowds, or standing in line at stores. Though agoraphobia is not technically the fear of going outside, some patients who suffer from it to a severe degree may isolate themselves and avoid leaving the house. 

With this in mind, get familiar with how agoraphobia is diagnosed and treated now.

DSM-5 Criteria For Agoraphobia

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Agoraphobia is a more common anxiety disorder than many individuals realize, with studies indicating about two percent of the United States population will experience it at some point in their lives. This equates to about one out of every fifty individuals. There's also another study that indicates adults over sixty-five years old have a higher prevalence, with more than ten percent having some form of the disorder. This may be because getting older leads to a greater fear of helplessness and lack of independence. Eighty-seven percent of patients diagnosed with agoraphobia will also have another psychiatric disorder, which is often another anxiety disorder or a form of depression. In the past, agoraphobia and panic disorder were considered the same condition. However, the DSM-5 has now separated them. For an agoraphobia diagnosis, a patient needs to experience anxiety or fear due to at least two situations including riding public transit, being in enclosed areas, being in open spaces, standing in crowds, standing in line, or being alone when outside the home. They must avoid the situations as they are afraid of panic, and the fear must be disproportionate to the potential danger.

Learn more about diagnosing agoraphobia now.

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Katherine MacAulay