Phobias are a category of anxiety disorder characterized by experiencing irrational fear when exposed to certain stimuli or circumstances. A person with agoraphobia experiences an irrational fear of any situation or place that might cause them to feel embarrassed, helpless, or trapped. Most individuals believe agoraphobia is a fear of going outside. Although this is one way the phobia can manifest, it's just one of many ways this underlying fear of being trapped can show up. The fear tends to be projected into anticipated or actual situations like using public transit, being in enclosed spaces, being in open spaces, being in crowds, or standing in line. Some researchers believe the root of agoraphobia is a fear of losing control.
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Out Of Proportion Anxiety Or Fear
One of the biggest warning signs of agoraphobia is experiencing out of proportion anxiety or fear. The fear patients experience is not rational or conducive to the actual situation. A difficult aspect of agoraphobia is that oftentimes the fear is of fear itself. When a person is aware they're prone to panic in certain situations, they may be terrified of becoming trapped or being unable to get help when the panic intensifies. That feeling of helplessness leads to more fear, resulting in a vicious cycle. Someone with agoraphobia may become so afraid of being trapped or helpless that they begin avoiding public places and other situations. Going out in public can lead to feelings of intense panic, which can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. An individual with agoraphobia might struggle to feel safe when they're alone in an unfamiliar situation. They may feel like they need to be accompanied by another person to help mitigate their fear of being trapped or isolated.
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