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Agoraphobia: the fear of the crowd

Recent studies indicate that depression, panic, anxiety and social phobia are disorders that affect more frequently and with a greater degree of intensity in females.

Among the most common anxiety disorders is agoraphobia, which is the excessive fear of being in an environment with large numbers of people. Find out more about this disorder, its causes and symptoms, and how to properly treat it below.

Know what is Agoraphobia

The etymology of the word Agoraphobia derives from Agora, which in Greek, refers to a space, square or meeting of people, and from Phobia, which means fear of something. Agoraphobia is the fear of being in an open or closed environment with many people.

The disorder is characterized as a disturbance marked by a state of exacerbated anxiety, which appears whenever the person is in places or situations from which it would be difficult to leave if they felt unwell, such as tunnels, bridges, large avenues, buses. crowded, trains, boats, parties, gatherings of people. Agoraphobic fears that they have no one to turn to if they feel bad.

According to psychologist Marana Tamie, specialist in Hospital Psychology, this denomination was coined by Carl Westphal in 1872 and the term is used by psychiatry, sometimes related to Panic Syndrome and to designate a type of anxiety disorder.

Know the causes of agoraphobia

According to Marana, there are several factors that can cause agoraphobia. “Among the researchers we found statements that the disorder can start after a period of mourning, or the need for adaptation, or even in a quiet phase of life”, she says.

In addition, there is still inconclusive research that associates anxiety disorders with a biological or genetic vulnerability. Another explanation for the causes of agoraphobia is that it can be associated with an unpleasant experience, such as being in a crowded elevator that has broken down and feeling sick, for example.

Overprotective parents whose children’s education was geared towards the dangers of life can also be the cause of behaviors of this nature. Agoraphobia can develop through observation of parents and other adults.

What are the symptoms of agoraphobia?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, symptoms of agoraphobia are described as: feeling of intense anxiety, increased heart rate and blood pressure, agitated breathing, sweating, tremors, feeling of suffocation, shortness of breath and nausea.

Symptoms such as fear of going to places with many people, for example: banks, supermarkets, theaters and cinemas are also common according to Marana.

“Some patients report that, in addition to being afraid of going to busy places, they have the thought that there is a possibility of getting sick and not having anyone to ask for help. With the feeling of anguish, so intense, they avoid even leaving the house”, says the psychologist.

Indicated treatments and when to seek help

As with other types of anxiety disorder, phobic behaviors can exist at varying levels from person to person. “When this malaise incapacitates the person, compromises social life, harms their family, study and work relationships, the indication is that they seek a psychologist or psychoanalyst and for cases that need medication, a psychiatrist is recommended” , guides Marana. It is not only oriented to use medication without monitoring therapy.

Agoraphobia and Panic Disorders

The relationship between agoraphobia and panic is very close. About half of panic disorder patients have agoraphobia.

Panic disorder is characterized by the unexpected occurrence of panic attacks, with relatively short duration, but with intense anxiety and fear. In many cases, panic disorder is accompanied by agoraphobia, which can significantly interfere with a person’s abilities in social and professional situations outside the home.

The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only. They do not replace the advice and follow-up of doctors, nutritionists, psychologists, physical education professionals and other specialists.

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