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The Many Faces of Agoraphobia

June 19th, 2007 ·

The medical community classifies agoraphobia as the chronic fear of facing a situation that can result in mental anquish or embrassement.  This broad definition groups together many people with different anxieties and phobias, making it difficult for the general public to fully understand the scope of this condition.

Most agoraphobics develop their fears as a result of reoccuring panic attacks, but each person has a unique association to what causes their panic.  It is this ”trigger response” that ultimately creates the phobia.

One common panic-inducing situation is traveling.  Whether it is flying, driving, or public transportation, thousands of sufferers attribute the cause of their panic attacks to these situations.  As their condition worsens (often as a result of multiple episodes)they begin to avoid these activites and slowly confine themselves to a small world of “safe places”.

But traveling is only one example of the many different activities that agoraphobics associate with fear and anxiety.  Public speaking, open spaces, closed spaces, heights, and water are some of the other common fears.  Some agoraphobics are comfortable with all of these activities except for one, while other face challenges with all of them.

The bottom line is that the broad definition of agoraphobia does very little to describe the intricacies of the problem.  Each case is unique, and each person faces different obstacles with their condition.  Recognizing this fact can help not only in diagnoses, but also in the creation of a targeted treatment plan

Tags: Agoraphobia