How To Conquer Agoraphobia: The Fear Of Open Spaces

Louis Laves-Webb

September 13, 2022

Do you find that you have an unexplainable fear or anxiety of open or crowded places, leaving your home, or being in a place where finding an escape route may be limited? These are some of the primary symptoms of agoraphobia, a common anxiety disorder affecting more than 200,000 Americans yearly. But what exactly is Agoraphobia, and how do people develop this disorder? In this post from the Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S’s blog, we’ll examine this disorder in greater detail including discussing how you can overcome some of the significant challenges associated with Agoraphobia.

What Is Agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that is associated with an often complex fear of open spaces or environments thus contributing to avoidance, extreme isolation, and depression. For those suffering from Agoraphobia, being in crowded places or areas without a clear escape route can lead to feelings of being trapped, as well as being embarrassed or even feeling hopeless. This fear can ultimately lead to its most pronounced manifestation, an individual being afraid to leave their home entirely.

How Do People Develop Agoraphobia?

As with any phobia, Agoraphobia is complex. It can be tied to the trauma of a painful memory regarding crowded places or can have an etiology stemming from severe childhood anxiety. This type of panic disorder can be “set off” by a traumatic experience that can begin the cycle of panic attacks and Agoraphobia. This repetitive pattern can lead to a further increase in anxiety and subsequent fear that individuals may have a panic attack again if they put themselves in a similar situation where the initial panic attack occurred.

Agoraphobia can stem from cultural or event-related occurrences as well, like fears surrounding Covid 19, 9/11, racial tensions, or frequent mass shootings. These severely traumatic experiences can easily manifest in individuals avoiding crowded places or events and ultimately removing themselves from things like movie theaters, concerts, or other large gatherings.

What Are The Symptoms of Agoraphobia?

Although symptoms of agoraphobia vary from individual to individual, there are some commonalities:

  • Intense fear of leaving their homes by themselves
  • Intense anxiety of waiting in line or in other crowded situations
  • Fears of enclosed spaces, like small stores, elevators, or movie theaters
  • Fears of open spaces, like bridges, malls, or parking lots
  • Fears of using public transportation, like trains, busses, or planes

The fears of individuals suffering from agoraphobia present themselves as anxieties related to feelings of being unable to escape if they start feeling anxious or panicked. Additionally, one of the defining features of agoraphobia is that the individual’s fear of the situation may not seem proportional to the situation from an outsider's point of view.

How To Overcome Agoraphobia

There are several treatment methods when it comes to overcoming Agoraphobia. Among the most effective treatment methods are psychotherapy and medications.

Psychotherapy to Conquer Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia can be better managed and overcome through psychotherapy. A therapist can offer genuine compassion, and practical skills to help reduce the symptoms of Agoraphobia. Many approaches will incorporate cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as research demonstrates that it can be one of the most effective forms of therapy for panic disorders with or without Agoraphobia.

Our cognitive behavioral therapy is offered in conjunction with a trauma-informed approach, ensuring that we remain mindful of the significant and pronounced nature of the fears associated with Agoraphobia.

Teletherapy offers a convenient and simple way to begin your process of healing from Agoraphobia. Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S & Associates offers teletherapy to help those individuals who are suffering from the fears associated with agoraphobia.

Medications to Treat Agoraphobia

Sometimes, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications may be used to treat agoraphobia in more severe cases. Although the effectiveness of antidepressants can take several weeks, anti-anxiety medications can offer more immediate relief and serve as an “insurance policy” should a panic attack occur. Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S & Associates can help guide you to the appropriate provider if you/we believe medication may be indicated in your specific set of circumstances.

Want To Overcome Agoraphobia? Louis Laves-Webb Can Help

Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S & Associates, and our team of highly experienced therapists have helped countless individuals in the state of Texas conquer agoraphobia through highly effective psychotherapy methodology. To learn more about our treatment methods, and our team, or to schedule an appointment, contact us online today or simply call us.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the fear of open spaces?

Agoraphobia is the fear of open spaces, as well as the fear of situations that might cause an individual to feel trapped, embarrassed, or helpless. 

What are some ways to overcome agoraphobia?

There are several ways to overcome agoraphobia, including psychotherapy, and in some severe cases, medications. Since agoraphobia typically develops as a result of some sort of anxiety disorder, anxiety medications are a popular treatment option for agoraphobia. 

Can you develop agoraphobia?

Yes, individuals who have had a traumatic experience regarding open spaces or a situation where they felt trapped or embarrassed can lead to the development of agoraphobia. Those with general anxiety disorder are more at risk of developing agoraphobia than others. 

What is the best treatment for agoraphobia?

The best treatment for agoraphobia (or any other kind of phobia) is therapy. Therapists can offer genuine compassion as well as practical skills to overcome or eliminate the symptoms of agoraphobia. Additionally, many psychotherapists can prescribe the necessary medications to reduce the symptoms of agoraphobia if talk therapy does not work. 

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