Do you avoid public spaces? Do you feel uncomfortable in crowds or on buses and trains? If so, you may be struggling with agoraphobia. This is a condition that causes intense fear and anxiety in social situations. It can be very debilitating, making it difficult to lead a normal life.
If you think you may have agoraphobia, take our agoraphobia test to help you understand your symptoms. Our online test will ask you about your fear of public spaces. It will also ask about your avoidance behaviors and how they have impacted your life. The quiz is based on the DSM-IV criteria for agoraphobia. This is the diagnostic manual used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental disorders.
What is Agoraphobia?
Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It is characterized by a fear of public places and situations. People with agoraphobia often avoid these situations, as they are afraid of having a panic attack or feeling trapped. Agoraphobia can be very debilitating, making it difficult to work, go to school, or even leave the house.
What Causes Agoraphobia?
Agoraphobia often develops after a person has had one or more panic attacks. Panic attacks are sudden periods of fear or anxiety that can come on without warning. After having a panic attack, a person may start to worry about having another one. This worry can lead to avoidance behaviors, such as staying home instead of going out in public. In some cases, agoraphobia can develop without a person ever having had a panic attack.
How Is Agoraphobia Diagnosed?
If you are experiencing symptoms of agoraphobia, it is important to see a mental health professional for an evaluation to be diagnosed with agoraphobia. He or she will ask about your symptoms and medical history and may perform a physical exam to rule out other conditions.
A diagnosis of agoraphobia is made when someone has intense anxiety about two or more of the following:
- Being in places where escape might be difficult, such as being in a crowd or on public transportation
- Being in open spaces, such as parking lots or bridges
- Standing in line or being in a crowded room
- Being outside their home alone
Symptoms of Agoraphobia
People with agoraphobia may experience a range of symptoms, including:
Avoiding Places or Situations
Avoiding situations or places that provoke anxiety or a panic attack is the most common symptom of agoraphobia. For example, someone with agoraphobia may avoid places or situations like these:
- Using public transportation
- Movie Theaters
- Standing in line
- Being outside alone
- Entering a parking garage
- Crossing a bridge
- Using public restrooms
- Enclosed Spaces
- Wide Open Spaces
Even if you don’t have a specific phobia or social phobia listed above, you could still experience anxiety in certain situations.
People with severe agoraphobia may be unable to leave their home without a family member, or at all. It can make you feel trapped and completely disrupt your daily life, and severe cases left untreated can result in complete isolation from the outside world.
If you’ve previously experienced sudden chills, it could be a sign of agoraphobia. This can be accompanied by feelings of anxiety or dread, and may even lead to a full-blown panic attack.
Another common symptom of agoraphobia is dizziness, which can make you feel unsteady on your feet or cause you to feel lightheaded.
Certain situations may cause you to have trouble breathing, or feel like you can’t catch your breath. This may be a sign of an anxiety attack, which can be extremely frightening. If you’re experiencing shortness of breath or trouble breathing, it’s important to seek medical help immediately.
Rapid Heart Rate
A rapid heart rate, or tachycardia, is another common symptom of agoraphobia. This can make you feel like your heart is racing or pounding, and may even cause chest pain.
Agoraphobia is often accompanied by chest pain that is unrelated to physical activity. The chest pain may be a sharp, stabbing sensation or a dull, aching feeling. If you’re experiencing chest pain, it’s important to seek medical help immediately.
People with agoraphobia experience fear and feel anxious in situations where escape might be difficult or embarrassing, or help may not be available if a panic attack occurs. This fear can be so severe that it interferes with work events, school, and other activities. Agoraphobia is different from general anxiety disorder because it is only triggered by certain situations or places.
A panic attack or anxiety attack is a sudden, intense episode of fear that can include much of the above: a pounding heart, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, and feelings of impending doom. Panic attacks can occur without warning and may be triggered by a variety of factors, such as stress or anxiety. If you’re experiencing panic attacks, it’s important to seek medical help immediately.
Panic-like symptoms, or panic disorder, may make it feel like you’re about to suffer a heart attack, going crazy, losing control, or even dying. These feelings make agoraphobia one of the most crippling anxiety disorders.
Take The Agoraphobia Test
The following self-assessment quiz is based on diagnostic criteria from the American Psychiatric Association, but it is not a final diagnosis. You are encouraged to share your agoraphobia test results with a healthcare provider, physician, or mental health professional to get a more accurate diagnosis.
For each question, please select the response that best reflects how you have felt and behaved over the past six months. Be sure to answer all questions.
How is Agoraphobia Treated?
Agoraphobia treatment works by gradually exposing the person to the situations they fear and avoid. Exposure therapy works to desensitize the individual to their fear. It is a slow process that should not be done without the help of a professional. For example, if you avoid situations like a movie theater you may be instructed to start by going to a matinee with a friend.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has also been found to be an effective treatment for agoraphobia. CBT works by helping the person to change their thinking patterns and behaviors. This form of therapy can be done in individual or group settings.
Medication is also an effective agoraphobia treatment. Anti-anxiety medication can sometimes provide immediate help to people who are experiencing severe symptoms. Medication can also be used in conjunction with therapy to provide a more comprehensive treatment plan.
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If you or someone you know is struggling with agoraphobia, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Mindflow Recovery offers comprehensive mental health services that can be accessed from the comfort of your own home.