Dr Oz Symptoms Of Agoraphobia And Who Is At Risk

Today Dr Oz goes inside the secret lives of shut-ins and the symptoms of agoraphobia. Tracy and Jim join Dr Oz in this segment on Agoraphobia and being paralyzed by fear, the fear of panic.

Take The Agoraphobia Quiz

Agoraphobia and the people who suffer from it. The condition keeps them from driving in cars, going to the shopping malls and grocery stores, and, in the most extreme cases, from leaving their homes. More than 3,500,000 Americans suffer from agoraphobia. For some, fear of the world beyond their houses keeps them shut in and alone.

The Agoraphobia Quiz - This quiz was created by David F. Tolin, Ph.D., ABPP at The Institute of Living. Agoraphobia is more common than you think. Agoraphobia affects nearly 3½ million Americans. The Agoraphobia Quiz identifies the key criteria of agoraphobia, the risk factors. Are you or someone you know at risk for Agoraphobia.

What Are The Symptoms of Agoraphobia

1. Severe anxiety or panic attacks
2. Fear of being alone
3. Fear of losing control in public
4. Becoming housebound
5. Being overly dependent on other people in your life
6. Physical symptoms such as abdominal and chest pain, dizziness, nausea, sweating

Many experts consider agoraphobia to be a complication of panic disorder. Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by frequent episodes of intense fear (panic attacks) that for no apparent reason trigger severe physical reactions. Panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you're losing control, having a heart attack or even dying.

Most people are not born with agoraphobia. It develops over time, often beginning in the mid-20s and peaking in middle age.

A significant risk factor is recurrent unexpected panic attacks. People with a family history of anxiety or mood disorders and people going through life transitions (good or bad) are also at greater risk, and women are 4 times more likely to suffer from agoraphobia than men.

Agoraphobia Risk Factors

Researchers don't know exactly what causes agoraphobia, they do know several risk factors involved, or the things that make you more likely to get agoraphobia. These risk factors may include:

Having panic disorder
Experiencing stressful life events, including sexual or physical abuse during childhood
Having a tendency to be nervous or anxious
Have an alcohol or substance abuse disorder
Being female

The symptoms of agoraphobia can be broadly classified into three types:
physical, psychological, and behavioural.

Psychological symptoms - The psychological symptoms of agoraphobia are feelings, or thoughts, that are often, although not always, related to the physical symptoms.
Psychological symptoms may include

1. fear that a panic attack will make you look stupid, or embarrassed, in front of other people,
2. fear that a panic attack will be life-threatening - for example, you could be worried that your heart will stop, or that you will be unable to breathe, or
3. fear that you are losing your sanity.

Tracy suffers from an extreme case of Agoraphobia, she couldn't join her husband Jim physically today on the show, but Jim tried to explain that he supports Tracey the best he can and understands where she is coming from. Tracy said she doesn't feel safe when she is off her own property, she has tried walking to her mother in law's which is one house down, but has to turn around and come back because that fear of panic would start after she would get just a couple of steps down the road.

Tracy's Agoraphobia started about 5 years ago when her Mother became sick with a terminal illness, she couldn't go visit her in the hospital and couldn't even go to her own Mother's funeral. Tracy used to be a very outgoing person, went out everywhere with her husband, even out of town, then things started to slow down.

David F. Tolin talked on Agoraphobia to Jim, and to try to enable her to get better, his support may be disabling her.

Dr Tolin gave us these questions to ask ourselves about Agoraphobia;

Ask yourself if you avoid:

1. Crowded places that are hard to get out of, such as the supermarket, a movie theater, or a shopping mall
2. Public transportation such as buses and subways
3. Driving or riding in a car or traveling via airplane
4. Getting in long lines
5. Being far away from your home, or outside an established safety zone around your house