Avoidance behavior and agoraphobia

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent and unexpected panic attacks. These episodes involve many physical symptoms, including tremor, sweating, shortness of breath, chest pain, and nausea. Panic attacks can also occur with cognitive symptoms, such as a sense of reality and depersonalization, in which the patient feels disconnected from himself and his surroundings.

Panic attack symptoms may be difficult to control. During a panic attack, it is not uncommon for a person to think their experience is frightening. This person may worry that they will lose control of their thoughts. Some people with panic disorder develop avoidance behaviors in response to their fear of panic attacks.

What is agoraphobia?

Approximately one-third of people with panic disorder will suffer from this kind of isolated anxiety disorder. Agoraphobia includes severe fear of being in certain situations and fear of panic attacks or other similar panic symptoms, such as fainting, dizziness or dizziness, vomiting, or migraine.

In particular, people with agoraphobia are afraid of panic attacks in situations of extreme difficulty and/or humiliation. People with agoraphobia may also be afraid of panic attacks in places where they feel no one can help them. The fear associated with agoraphobia usually leads to persistent avoidance behavior.

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What is avoidance behavior?

Situations that people with agoraphobia usually fear and avoid include crowds, large open spaces, elevators, bridges, and travel.Avoidance behavior usually occurs in related fear groups. For example, a person with agoraphobia who is afraid of a panic attack while driving may also start avoiding other means of transportation, such as being passengers on a bus, train, or airplane.

Avoidance behavior tends to increase over time and may impair the quality of life in agoraphobia. The person’s work, family and other responsibilities may be affected. For example, people with agoraphobia may not be able to go to important appointments, participate in special occasions, or perform common daily activities. The avoidance behavior may be so exacerbated that the person stays at home due to agoraphobia.

It may be difficult to understand how a person develops avoidance behavior. To better understand avoidance behavior, suppose you have a panic disorder: when you experience an unexpected panic attack, you are in a crowded movie theater. You start to tremble, your chest hurts, your heart beats faster, and it feels like you’re suffocating. You don’t want to make trouble, but you start to worry about your life. You want to know if you have a medical emergency. You begin to feel as if you are looking at yourself from a distance. You feel trapped in the cinema, even though you are embarrassed, you still ran out of the cinema.

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After you leave and your symptoms subside, you will be ashamed of your reaction. The next time your friend invites you to watch a movie, you refuse, and it is too difficult to go again. You start to be afraid of panic attacks in other similar situations, and you start to avoid other crowded areas, such as shopping centers or concerts. Your avoidance behavior begins to limit your life.

Overcoming avoidance behavior

Once a person develops avoidance behavior, facing fear situations can become extremely challenging. Avoidance behaviors can be comforting, and can temporarily get rid of anxiety. But in the long run, these behaviors will only exacerbate their fear and anxiety.

If left untreated, agoraphobia and avoidance behavior will worsen. Fortunately, there are some treatment options that can help control agoraphobia and overcome avoidance behavior. A typical treatment will involve a combination of drugs and treatments.

A treatment process called systemic desensitization is often used to help patients gradually face situations they avoid and fear. People with agoraphobia often find it comforting to face their fears in the company of trusted friends or family members.

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Through treatment and support from loved ones, agoraphobia patients can expect to control their fears, reduce panic attacks and avoidance behaviors, and return to a more independent life.