Agoraphobia is a very common disorder, yet it is still very misunderstood among many people. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of the wo?rd agoraphobia is An abnormal fear of being helpless in a situation from which escape may be difficult or embarrassing that is characterized initially often by panic or anticipatory anxiety and finally by the avoidance of open or public places. This is basically a social anxiety disorder that can be caused by a number of situations. This essay will include a number of topics surrounding agoraphobia. These topics include the origin of the word agoraphobia, what causes agoraphobia, symptoms of agoraphobia, how can agoraphobia be treated, and the similarities and differences between agoraphobia and social anxiety.
Agoraphobia comes from two Greek words. These words are agora and ‘phobia. As defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary, a phobia is an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation. The final part of this definition applies to agoraphobia as it is a fear of a certain situation. However, many already know what a phobia is because it is a casually used term in our day-to-day lives. We still need to figure out the origin of the word agora. Agora was originally known as the center of town where anyone could give announcements or hold political rallies (Sakoulas, 2015). However, it’s meaning changed as people started to use this public gathering space to sell goods. The agora of the city essentially turned into a market place. This term is still used in modern day Greece meaning market or gathering. The vendors were that worked at the market were looked down upon. This is because they were benefiting from the labors of another man’s work. These vendors sold everything from commodities such as baskets and pots to luxuries such as fine material and garments. However, there was commonly a separate market selling items for women such as Jewelry and pastries. These markets were often very crowded and often only have a few exits (Mark, 2009). This is why they are used in the word agoraphobia.
What really is agoraphobia? As previously stated, it is a fear of how you will react when in an uncomfortable situation. It is not the situation that is feared, however, it is how you will react to the situation (Smith). For example, let’s say James went to a crowded movie theater. James went with some friends, but they were forced to sit separately. He is now already in an uncomfortable situation. Because of this, he has some sort of negative reaction. This reaction could be anything from sweating profusely, an anxiety attack, or even vomiting. As a result, James could now develop agoraphobia and attempt to avoid any situations similar the this one for fear of having the same reaction. This is why agoraphobia is the fear of how one will react to a situation and not the situation itself.
What is the cause of agoraphobia? Is it passed down by parents to their children? Is it a learned disorder that can result from a traumatic experience? Well, the cause of agoraphobia isn’t completely clear. One biological factor thought to be a cause of agoraphobia is the fear network. This theory states that some people experience the fear emotion much stronger that others and this causes a panic attack among other things. Another biological factor is the incorrect response of the fight-or-flight reflex which causes a panic attack. However, other psychological factors are also believed to have a hand in agoraphobia. One of these beliefs is that agoraphobia results from having a negative experience while in a specific situation. This situation is usually in a crowded place without a clear exit path. Other situations or events could be the death of a loved one, childhood abuse, and divorce. Furthermore, abuse of alcohol, among other drugs, can lead to agoraphobia (NHS, 2016). Other mental disorders or illnesses can also cause agoraphobia. These illnesses can cause a change in the way the brain works and causes certain emotions to occur more. Even though the true causes of agoraphobia are still not absolutely sure, these causes are believed to have a positive correlation with agoraphobia.
What are the symptoms of agoraphobia. Well, the symptoms can vary widely from person to person. The standard symptoms are trying to avoid situations that may lead the victim feeling frightened, trapped, lonely, and even embarrassed. Because of this, those who suffer from agoraphobia often tend to lead a life of seclusion from others and become very introverted.
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