Agoraphobia or fear of open spaces

The agoraphobia is one of the disorders of anxiety best known worldwide. If you have seen movies like ‘The Fear Inside’, ‘Copycat’, ‘Nim’s Island’ or ‘Restraint’, surely you can already get an idea (quite televised) of how agoraphobia can show itself in different people, but this can change a lot. And it is that despite being an anxiety disorder that can be talked about, there are still too many myths.

Commonly, agoraphobia is spoken of as a phobia that people have of leaving the house, of open spaces, and although it is partly like that, there is also more behind that fear. It is not just a deep fear of being in an open space, but it is the feeling that anything could happen to you and you would not have a place to take refuge. The people who suffer from agoraphobia not only are those who do not want to leave home, but they can also be those who prefer to stay in a comfort zone default, as could be your neighborhood or city.

What exactly is agoraphobia

According to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), agoraphobia is ” the anxiety to find oneself in situations or places in which the escape can become difficult (or embarrassing) or in which help may not be available in in the event of an unexpected or situationally predisposed panic attack, or panic-like situations. Common situations include being home alone, being in a crowd or queuing, crossing a bridge, traveling by car, bus, train or plane “. In other words, agoraphobia is much more than just not wanting to leave home, but there are many other little details that could push us to feel that we need psychological treatment to overcome our problems.

Although there are those who speak of agoraphobia as something more similar to fear of fear , since what agoraphobic people really fear are not open spaces, but situations that can lead them to suffer from anxiety. Leaving home could be such an exciting situation in itself that it ends up causing anxiety , and that is when we could return to the definition given by the DSM; as in all disorders, it depends a lot on the person in question and the situation in which they find themselves.

What causes agoraphobia?

This fear of open and unprotected spaces can be triggered by a negative experience . The person may have suffered some kind of trauma, or taken a lot of risk outside, and associated these open spaces with the cause of their fear. His fear is such that the only thing that really calms him down is thinking that at home, or in any controlled space, he does not have to feel this way at all. He knows everything that surrounds him, he knows everything that may happen, he has everything under control.

It should also be noted that agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that does not usually occur alone , but can be accompanied by acrophobia (fear of heights), hypochondria (constant feeling that anything could make you sick), anuptaphobia ( fear of being left alone) and many others.

How to detect agoraphobia

If a person suffers from agoraphobia, this is something that can be seen quite clearly. You will not want to leave home, or your comfort zone, you will avoid using public transport, shopping, going to the movies, traveling … All these types of activities will make you feel anxious and, therefore, you will develop a behavior of avoidance. Agoraphobia also has associated physical symptoms : tachycardia, hot and cold, hot flashes, tremors, hyperventilation or shortness of breath, dizziness, asthenia, nausea, blurred vision … It can even trigger a panic attack. That is why it is especially important that if you think that you, or someone close to you, suffers from agoraphobia, you consult a specialist .

Agoraphobia can be overcome, like practically all disorders of this type, but the help of a psychologist and behavioral therapy is necessary to bring everything back to stability.

Elle Mcdonald

I am Elle Mcdonald Specializations in Psychology . Graduated in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Diploma of Advanced Studies in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and psychological treatments with excellent results.

First Level of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Behavioral Therapists (recognized with a scientific-professional nature by the College of Psychologists)

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