One category of anxiety disorders is particular famous: phobias. These intense, irrational fears can affect anyone, and can be about nearly anything. They often lead to panic attacks and reckless behavior — anything to avoid the situation the person fears.One example of a phobia is agoraphobia. Simply put, it’s the fear of leaving your home or safe area. Believe it or not, agoraphobia is the most commonly treated phobia. Other phobias might be more common in general, but the symptoms of agoraphobia are so debilitating that treatment is nearly always necessary.
Some famous people who have suffered from agoraphobia include Woody Allen (director), Paula Dean (celebrity chef), and Elfriede Jelinek (Nobel literature laureate).
Agoraphobia is often misunderstood as a fear of open or crowded places. It can sometimes coexist with these phobias, but agoraphobia is the fear of being too far away from a “safe” area. Agoraphobics often welcome visitors to their home, since they’re in better control of the situation, but simply don’t like leaving their own home.
Agoraphobic people suffer panic attacks if they feel unsafe; this can include feeling trapped or finding oneself too far away from a comfort zone.
Like all phobias, agoraphobia doesn’t discriminate. Age, religion, ethnicity and socioeconomic background don’t affect who could be afflicted with agoraphobia. The one notable exception to this rule is that women are about twice as likely to suffer from agoraphobia.
This anxiety disorder generally develops from a mild fear to a serious condition that affects daily life.
Treatments for agoraphobia include gradual exposure and desensitization to the situations that worry the sufferer, medication, therapy, and other treatments such as hypnosis. The treatments are generally a little more limited than for sufferers of other phobias, however; agoraphobic people obviously can’t venture too far away for treatment. Some therapists are beginning to do house calls to help agoraphobic patients.
There is help available for those who suffer from agoraphobia. Simply asking for it is the first step in the recovery process.