Name = Agoraphobia
ICD10 = F40.00 Without panic disorder, F40.01 With panic disorder
ICD9 = ICD9|300.22 Without panic disorder, ICD9|300.21 With panic disorder Agoraphobia is an
anxiety disorder, often precipitated by the fear of having a panic attackin a setting from which there is no easy means of escape. As a result, sufferers of agoraphobia may avoid public and/or unfamiliar places. In severe cases, the sufferer may become confined to their home, experiencing difficulty traveling from this "safe place."
The word "agoraphobia" is an English adaptation of the Greek words "
agora" (αγορά) and " phobos" (φόβος), and literally translates to "a fear of the marketplace."
Agoraphobia is a condition where the sufferer becomes anxious in environments that are unfamiliar or where he or she perceives that they have little control. Triggers for this anxiety may include crowds, wide open spaces or traveling, even short distances. This anxiety is often compounded by a fear of social embarrassment, as the agoraphobic fears the onset of a
panic attackand appearing distraught in public. [ [http://psychcentral.com/disorders/sx29.htm Psych Central: Agoraphobia Symptoms ] ]
Agoraphobics may experience
panic attacks in situations where they feel trapped, insecure, out of control or too far from their personal comfort zone. In severe cases, an agoraphobic may be confined to his or her home. Citation | title=Treatment of Panic Disorder | journal=NIH Consens Statement | date=September 25-27, 1991 | volume=9 | issue=2 | pages=1–24 |url=http://consensus.nih.gov/1991/1991PanicDisorder085html.htm] Many people with agoraphobia are comfortable seeing visitors in a defined space they feel they can control. Such people may live for years without leaving their homes, while happily seeing visitors in and working from their personal safety zones. If the agoraphobic leaves his or her safety zone, they may experience a panic attack.
The one-year prevalence of agoraphobia in the United States is about 5 percent. [cite book | year=2006 | publisher=NIH Publication No. 06-3879 | title=Anxiety Disorders | url=http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/NIMHanxiety.pdf] According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 3.2 million Americans ages 18-54 have agoraphobia at any given time. About one third of people with
panic disorderprogress to develop agoraphobia. [Citation | year=1991 | editor-last=Robins |editor-first=LN | editor2-last=Regier | editor2-first=DN | title=Psychiatric Disorders in America: the Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study | publisher=The Free Press | location=New York, NY]
Agoraphobia occurs about twice as commonly among women as it does in men. [Magee, W. J., Eaton, W. W. , Wittchen, H. U., McGonagle, K. A., & Kessler, R. C. (1996). "Agoraphobia, simple phobia, and social phobia in the National Comorbidity Survey", Archives of General Psychiatry, 53, 159–168.] The gender difference may be attributable to social-cultural factors that encourage, or permit, the greater expression of avoidant coping strategies by women. Other theories include the ideas that women are more likely to seek help and therefore be diagnosed, that men are more likely to abuse alcohol as a reaction to anxiety and be diagnosed as an alcoholic, and that traditional female sex roles prescribe women to react to anxiety by engaging in dependent and helpless behaviors. [cite web
last = Agoraphobia Research Center
title = Is agoraphobia more common in men or women?
accessdate = 2007-11-15 ] Research results have not yet produced a single clear explanation as to the gender difference in agoraphobia.
Causes and contributing factors
There are a number of factors that contribute to the development of agoraphobia. These factors include: [Citation
last = Agoraphobia Resource Center
title = What causes agoraphobia?
accessdate = 2007-11-15] Verify credibility|date=July 2008
* Family factors:
**Having an anxious parent role model.
**Being abused as a child.
**Having an overly critical parent.
* Personality factors:
**High need for approval.
**High need for control.
**Oversensitivity to emotional stimuli.
* Biological factors:
**Oversensitivity to hormone changes.
**Oversensitivity to physical stimuli.
**High amounts of
sodium lactatein the bloodstream.
Research has uncovered a linkage between agoraphobia and difficulties with spatial orientation. [cite journal
authorlink = Yardley L, Britton J, Lear S, Bird J, Luxon LM
title = Relationship between balance system function and agoraphobic avoidance.
journal = Behav Res Ther.
volume = 33
issue = 4
pages = 435–9
date = 1995 May
pmid = : 7755529
accessdate = ] [cite journal
authorlink = RG Jacob, JM Furman, JD Durrant and SM Turner
title = Panic, agoraphobia, and vestibular dysfunction
journal = Am J Psychiatry
volume = 153
pages = 503–512
date = 1996
accessdate = ] Normal individuals are able to maintain balance by combining information from their
vestibular system, their visual systemand their proprioceptivesense. A disproportionate number of agoraphobics have weak vestibular function and consequently rely more on visual or tactile signals. They may become disoriented when visual cues are sparse as in wide open spaces or overwhelming as in crowds.Likewise, they may be confused by sloping or irregular surfaces. [cite journal
authorlink = Jacob RG, Furman JM, Durrant JD, Turner SM
title = Surface dependence: a balance control strategy in panic disorder with agoraphobia
journal = Psychosom Med.
volume = 59
issue = 3
pages = 323–30
date = 1997 May-Jun
pmid = : 9178344
accessdate = ] Compared to controls, in
virtual realitystudies, agoraphobics on average show impaired processing of changing audiovisual data. [cite journal
authorlink = Viaud-Delmon I, Warusfel O, Seguelas A, Rio E, Jouvent R.
title = High sensitivity to multisensory conflicts in agoraphobia exhibited by virtual reality.
journal = Eur Psychiatry
volume = 21
issue = 7
pages = 501–8
date = 2006 Oct
pmid = : 17055951
accessdate = ]
Some scholars [G. Liotti, (1996). "Insecure attachment and agoraphobia", in: C. Murray-Parkes, J. Stevenson-Hinde, & P. Marris (Eds.). Attachment Across the Life Cycle.] [J. Bowlby, (1998). "Attachment and Loss" (Vol. 2: Separation).] have explained agoraphobia as an attachment deficit, i.e., the temporary loss of the ability to tolerate spatial separations from a secure base. Recent empirical research has also linked attachment and spatial theories of agoraphobia [J. Holmes, (2008). "Space and the secure base in agoraphobia: a qualitative survey", Area, 40, 3, 357 - 382.] .
In the social sciences there is a perceived clinical bias [J. Davidson, (2003). "Phobic Geographies"] in agoraphobia research. Branches of the social sciences, especially
geography, have increasingly become interested in what may be thought of as a spatialphenomenon. One such approach links the development of agoraphobia with modernity. [J. Holmes, (2006). "Building Bridges and Breaking Boundaries: Modernity and Agoraphobia", Opticon1826, 1, 1, http://www.ucl.ac.uk/opticon1826/archive/issue1] .
Feministscholars have applied feminist theoryin an attempt to construct agoraphobia and other anxiety disorders as gendered issues. One such theory explains agoraphobia as a fear of the hysterical woman, meaning a fear of being perceived by others as overly feminine and out of control. [cite journal
authorlink = Ruth Bankey
title = La Donna e Mobile: Constructing the irrational woman
journal = Gener, Place and Culture
volume = 8 (1)
pages = 37–54
date = 2001]
Most people who present to mental health specialists develop agoraphobia after the onset of
panic disorder( American Psychiatric Association, 1998). Agoraphobia is best understood as an adverse behavioral outcome of repeated panic attacks and subsequent anxiety and preoccupation with these attacks that leads to an avoidance of situations where a panic attack could occur. [cite book | year=1988| author=Barlow, D. H.| title=Anxiety and its disorders: The nature and treatment of anxiety and panic| publisher=Guilford Press] In rare cases where agoraphobics do not meet the criteria used to diagnose Panic Disorder, the formal diagnosis of Agoraphobia Without History of Panic Disorderis used.
DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria
A) Anxiety about being in places or situations from which escape might be difficult (or embarrassing) or in which help may not be available in the event of having an unexpected or situationally predisposed Panic Attack or panic-like symptoms. Agoraphobic fears typically involve characteristic clusters of situations that include being outside the home alone; being in a crowd, or standing in a line; being on a bridge; and traveling in a bus, train, or automobile.
B) The situations are avoided (e.g., travel is restricted) or else are endured with marked distress or with anxiety about having a panic attack or panic-like symptoms, or require the presence of a companion.
C) The anxiety or phobic avoidance is not better accounted for by another mental disorder, such as
Social Phobia(e.g., avoidance limited to social situations because of fear of embarrassment), Specific Phobia (e.g., avoidance limited to a single situation like elevators), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (e.g., avoidance of dirt in someone with an obsession about contamination), Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (e.g., avoidance of stimuli associated with a severe stressor), or Separation Anxiety Disorder(e.g., avoidance of leaving home or relatives). [cite book
authorlink = American Psychiatric Association
title = Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DVM-IV-TR)
date = 2000]
Association with panic attacks
Agoraphobia patients can experience sudden
panic attacks when traveling to places where they fear they are out of control, help would be difficult to obtain, or they could be embarrassed. During a panic attack, epinephrineis released in large amounts, triggering the body's natural fight-or-flightresponse. A panic attack typically has an abrupt onset, building to maximum intensity within 10 to 15 minutes, and rarely lasts longer than 30 minutes. cite book | year=1999 | chapter=Chapter 4.2| author=David Satcher etal.| title=Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General| url=http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/mentalhealth/chapter4/sec2.html] Symptoms of a panic attack include palpitations, a rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, dizziness, tightness in the throat and shortness of breath. Many patients report a fear of dying or of losing control of emotions and/or behavior.
Agoraphobia can be successfully treated in many cases through a very gradual process of
graduated exposure therapycombined with cognitive therapyand sometimes anti-anxietyor antidepressantmedications.Fact|date=January 2008 Treatment options for agoraphobia and panic disorderare similar.
Cognitive behavioral treatments
Exposure treatment can provide lasting relief to the majority of patients with panic disorder and agoraphobia. Disappearance of residual and subclinical agoraphobic avoidance, and not simply of panic attacks, should be the aim of exposure therapy. [ cite journal | last1=Fava | first1=G.A. | last2=Rafanelli | first2=C. | last3=Grandi | first3=S. | last4=Cinto | first4=S. | last5=Ruini | first5=C. | title=Long-term outcome of panic disorder with agoraphobia treated by exposure | journal=Psychological Medicine | volume=31 | pages=891–898 | publisher=Cambridge University Press | doi=10.1017/S0033291701003592 | year=2001 | author=Fava, G. A.] Similarly,
Systematic desensitizationmay also be used. Cognitive restructuringhas also proved useful in treating agoraphobia. This treatment uses thought replacing with the goal of replacing one's irrational, counter-factual beliefs with more accurate and beneficial ones.Fact|date=January 2008 Relaxation techniquesare often useful skills for the agoraphobic to develop, as they can be used to stop or prevent symptoms of anxiety and panic.Fact|date=January 2008
Anti-depressant medications most commonly used to treat anxiety disorders are mainly in the SSRI (
selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) class and include sertraline, paroxetineand fluoxetine. Benzodiazepinetranquilizers, MAO inhibitorsand tricyclic antidepressants are also commonly prescribed for treatment of agoraphobia.Fact|date=January 2008
Eye movement desensitization and reprogramming (EMDR) has been studied as a possible treatment for agoraphobia, with poor results. [cite journal
coauthors = Goldstein, Alan J., de Beurs, Edwin, Chambless, Dianne L., Wilson, Kimberly A.
title = EMDR for Panic Disorder With Agoraphobia : Comparison With Waiting List and Credible Attention-Placebo Control Conditions
journal = Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology
volume = 68
issue = 6
pages = 947–957
date = 2000
doi = 10.1037/0022-006X.68.6.947
author = Goldstein, Alan J. ] As such, EMDR is only recommended in cases where cognitive-behavioral approaches have proven ineffective or in cases where agoraphobia has developed following trauma. [Citation
last = Agoraphobia Resource Center
title = Agoraphobia treatments - Eye movement desensitization and reprogramming
accessdate = 2008-04-18]
Alternative treatments of agoraphobia include
hypnotherapy, acupuncture, guided imagery meditation, music therapy, yoga, religious practice and ayurvedicmedicine.Fact|date=January 2008
Additionally, many people with anxiety disorders benefit from joining a self-help or support group and sharing their problems and achievements with others. Stress management techniques and meditation can help people with anxiety disorders calm themselves and may enhance the effects of therapy. There is preliminary evidence that aerobic exercise may have a calming effect. Since caffeine, certain illicit drugs, and even some over-the-counter cold medications can aggravate the symptoms of anxiety disorders, they should be avoided. [Citation
last = National Institute of Mental Health
title = How to get help for anxiety disorders
accessdate = 2008-04-18]
Woody Allen(1935-), American actor, director, musician. [ [http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2005/12/woodyallen200512?currentPage=4 "Reconstructing Woody"] ]
H.L. Gold(1914-1996), science fiction editor; as a result of trauma during his wartime experiences, his agoraphobia became so severe that for more than two decades he was unable to leave his apartment. Towards the end of his life he acquired some control over the condition. [http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=H._L._Gold&action=edit§ion=4]
Daryl Hannah(1960-), American actress. [ [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000435/bio Biography for Daryl Hannah] . Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 28 November 2007.]
Howard Hughes(1905-1976), American aviator, industrialist, film producer and philanthropist. [ [http://www.crimelibrary.com/criminal_mind/forensics/psych_autopsy/4.html Psychological Autopsy can help understand controversial deaths - The Crime Library on truTV.com ] ]
Bolesław Prus(1847–1912), Polish journalist and novelist. [Stanisław Fita, ed., "Wspomnienia o Bolesławie Prusie" (Reminiscences about Bolesław Prus), Warsaw, Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy (State Publishing Institute), 1962, p. 113.]
*Peter Robinson (1962-), British musician known simply as Marilyn. ["Whatever Happened to the Gender Benders?", Channel 4 documentary, United Kingdom.]
Roy Castle(1932-94), entertainer and TV presenter. Suffered from Agorophobia throughout his adult life, see Wikipedia article for details.
William Gibson(1948-), science-fiction author. [ [http://www.josefsson.net/gibson/gibson4.html "I do not want to receive three hundred e-mail messages per week from strangers wanting to communicate with me"] Josefsson.net]
Rose McGowan(1973-), American Actress. [ [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000535/bio Biography for Rose McGowan] . Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 15 May 2008.]
* [http://www.anxiety-agoraphobia.com Agoraphobia]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.