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Agoraphobia is a fear of places and situations that can cause feelings of panic, helplessness, or embarrassment.
Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder that can develop as a result of one or more panic attacks. Panic attacks are sudden episodes of intense fear, which trigger physical reactions like heavy breathing and increased heart rate, even when there’s no real threat or apparent cause. Many people have experienced a few panic attacks in their lifetime, but recurrent ones can result in agoraphobia. If you’re battling this condition or know someone who does, you may be wondering things like, “can a person with agoraphobia be cured?” or “how long does agoraphobia last?” Our Banyan mental health facility is sharing some insight on this condition and the treatment options available.
What Causes Agoraphobia?
A complicated or severe panic disorder usually causes agoraphobia. A panic disorder involves frequent panic attacks and moments of intense fear or apprehension. Panic attacks can occur wherever and whenever but are usually triggered by specific places, people, things, or thoughts. A panic disorder develops when a person associates certain places or situations with panic attacks and then avoids them, creating an apprehension towards these things.
The rare bunch of people with agoraphobia who do not have a history of panic attacks or panic disorder may have developed the condition from fear of things like crime, terrorism, illness, and or being in an accident. Trauma or traumatic experiences are also common catalysts to agoraphobia, as well as bereavement or grieving the death of someone. Agoraphobia is also genetic and can be inherited from your parents or other family members.
Can You Cure Agoraphobia?
Yes, you can cure agoraphobia with either medication, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or a combination of both. Banyan Mental Health offers CBT for agoraphobia. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of psycho-social therapy that focuses on challenging the person’s distorted views and changing these distortions and related behaviors to improve emotional regulation and problem-solving skills and to reduce symptoms of mental illnesses like agoraphobia. While a specific agoraphobia cure is unknown, people with this condition who undergo talk therapy (and medication in severe cases) can learn how to overcome their symptoms.
Additionally, many people tend to compare social anxiety and agoraphobia, but the two are very different. While the former may fear situations where they may have to socialize, the latter may fear experiencing anxiety in specific situations. While anxiety treatment may be suitable for a person with a formally diagnosed anxiety disorder, treating agoraphobia is most effectively done with the use of mental health therapies like CBT.
Agoraphobia Recovery: How Long Does it Last?
If you’re wondering how long agoraphobia lasts, there are two things to consider: the disorder itself and agoraphobia symptoms like panic attacks. Panic attacks in people with agoraphobia can last anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes, although some may last for an hour. While these episodes are uncomfortable, they’re usually temporary. However, the end of a panic attack doesn’t mean the end of the disorder itself.
How long agoraphobia lasts depends on when it began. Agoraphobia usually develops in late adolescence or early adulthood, between the ages of 13 and 35. Because young teens and adults can recognize panic attacks and their triggers, they’re more likely to fear them than children are. Even so, childhood trauma can be a catalyst to agoraphobia later on in life. Some examples of these traumatic experiences include being lost in a crowded area, like a store, or having a near-death experience on public transportation. Even though these incidents occurred during childhood, the person isn’t likely to develop associated panic until they’re older.
Common signs and symptoms of agoraphobia include:
- Fear of leaving home alone
- Fear of crowds or waiting in a line
- Fear of enclosed spaces, like movie theaters, elevators, or small stores
- Fear of open spaces like parking lots, bridges, or malls
- Fear of using public transportation like a bus, plane, or train
Agoraphobia symptoms like fear or anxiety usually occur when the person is exposed to a particular situation. These feelings are also often out of proportion to the actual danger of the situation. People with agoraphobia may also avoid certain situations or require people to accompany them to places. If left untreated, agoraphobia can last for years, during which the person may experience multiple panic attacks and fear experiencing future ones. Although individual panic attacks usually last between 10 and 30 minutes, agoraphobia itself can last a lifetime if the person doesn’t get help.
The best way to help someone with agoraphobia is to encourage them to get treatment. If you or someone you know is battling mental illness, call us Banyan now at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our inpatient mental health rehab in Florida.