The Development of Agoraphobia


Mental health information – Agoraphobia, clinically defined as the fear of anxiety and panic brought about by situations that one cannot easily escape from, is said to develop from another anxiety disorder called Panic Disorder.

Although Panic Disorder often accompanies Agoraphobia, Agoraphobia may also be diagnosed without it. Agoraphobia has much deeper roots and in fact, the development of Agoraphobia can be traced back to the childhood years of an Agoraphobic individual.

Studies have shown that a baby or a child who exhibits negative behaviors towards new situations, unknown surroundings, and unfamiliar people may be at higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder such as Agoraphobia.

If he or she cries, kicks, hides, recoils, draws back, or only wants to be held by someone familiar when faced with such situations, then the child might have a condition called behavioral inhibition.

Behavioral inhibition in children, especially those who continue to show such characteristics after a considerable period of time, may develop into Agoraphobia later in their adult life.

Children who are afraid of being separated from their parents also have higher tendencies of developing Agoraphobia as adults. Almost half of the patients diagnosed with Agoraphobia revealed that they experienced separation anxiety when they were still children.

One trait of Agoraphobics is that they do not like being away from their “Phobic Companion”, a person that they heavily rely on and would only face difficult situations when they are with that person.

Agoraphobia occurs much more frequently in women than in men and this can be explained by the conventional roles and expectations imposed on women by society.

Instead of teaching women how to fend for themselves, some women today are still taught to be apprehensive of crowds and public places, putting emphasis on the dangers that they may face in such situations.

These women become fearful and coupled with traditional expectations of women such as being helpless in times of danger, it is no wonder that Agoraphobia is more likely to develop in women than men.

Some people develop Agoraphobia from simply avoiding places and situations. For example, a person who experiences a fearful and panicky situation in a hospital could begin to link hospitals with the feelings of panic, fear, and anxiety that he or she felt during that situation.

That person could then start to avoid all hospitals entirely and if he or she begins to forcefully avoid hospitals no matter what the cost, then that may be the onset of Agoraphobia.

Stressful events in a person’s life can also bring about the development of Agoraphobia and other anxiety disorders. A stressful event like a traumatic driving accident could cause a panic attack in a person.

When that first panic attack is left untreated, then that person could begin to associate things or places in the accident as the cause of the panic attack.

From then on, that person might experience panic attacks whenever faced with anything that he or she relates to the accident. Frequent panic attacks could develop into a Panic Disorder which could further develop into Agoraphobia.

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