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A Research Paper On Agoraphobia

1633 words - 7 pages

The term "agoraphobia" comes from the Greeks, the word "agora" meaning the market place. Agoraphobia was a term coined by the German neurologist Westphal in 1871. Westphal felt the term was appropriate because it described how people felt vulnerable in public places and in particular where there was no obvious exit. In his original description, Westphal described his four patients who had attacks of anxiety in public places. He described how several of them used alcohol to reduce their fears. The term agoraphobia has been widely misunderstood by many. Two major characteristics are associated with agoraphobia are 1.) People develop anxiety when thinking about being in a situation out of their comfort zone. They fear feeling trapped in a situation where they judge it would be difficult or embarrassing for them to leave the situation. 2.) People avoid those situations which bring them anxiety or panic. It is the fear of the anxiety that leads to the agoraphobia. Its literal definition suggests a fear of "open spaces". People suffering from agoraphobia sometimes fear that they are "losing" their mind or "going crazy" because of their fears and anxiety. This is an incomplete and misleading view. Agoraphobics are not necessarily afraid of open spaces. They could be afraid of having panicky feelings, wherever these fearful feelings may occur. For many people, it could happen at home, in places of worship, or in crowded supermarkets, places that are certainly not "open".Less than one percent (1%) of the population of the United States is thought to have agoraphobia. The rate of agoraphobia without panic disorder is a big controversial issue as different studies have found different rates. Among the general population approximately 2 to 5 out of every 100 people report symptoms of agoraphobia without any history of panic disorder. However in most anxiety disorder clinics over 95% of people presenting for treatment for agoraphobia also have panic disorder. Having panic disorder seems to be a huge risk factor for agoraphobia. The longer that someone that lives with panic disorder the more likely they are to eventually develop symptoms of agoraphobia. It is also possible that people with both agoraphobia and panic disorder are more likely to come forward for treatment than individuals with agoraphobia without panic disorder. If this is true studies may have underestimated the amount of people suffering with agoraphobia. The most common age for agoraphobia to begin is when a person is in her/his mid to late 20's, but more women experience agoraphobia than men. It is important to note that in some cultures the movement of women away from the home is restricted and this is not the same thing as agoraphobia. People who have to leave their house for work are less likely to have agoraphobia. Many people with agoraphobia experience a tremendous interference in their lives. For example, some people are unable to travel, work, complete homemaking responsibilities...

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