Agoraphobia symptoms are classified by three types: physical, psychological and behavioural.
The physical symptoms are triggered when the sufferer is placed in a situation that increases anxiety levels. The symptoms are not always experienced because the sufferer will use avoidance tactics to ensure they don't put themselves into circumstances which make them anxious.
Should someone with agoraphobia find themselves in an environment that raises their anxiety levels they may experience some of the following symptoms:
• Increased heart rate
• Hyperventilation (rapid breaths)
• Feeling hot
• Feeling sweaty
• Feeling dizzy
• Light headedness
• Trembles or shakes
• Ear ringing
Psychological symptoms of agoraphobia can be related to physical symptoms but this isn't always the case. Typically the sufferer will experience negative feelings or thoughts which impact on their ability to cope with day-to-day life. These thoughts can include:
- Fear of having a panic attack in front of people and embarrassing themselves
- Fear that the panic attack will cause a life-threatening problem such as a heart attack
- Fear that they're losing their sanity
- Fear of being alone in the house
Symptoms that an agoraphobia sufferer can have but may not be related to panic attacks include:
- Low self-esteem
- Inability to cope or function alone
Someone with agoraphobia can display four types of behavioural symptoms: avoidance, reassurance, safety behaviour and escape.Avoidance
– This is a behavioural pattern whereby the sufferer will avoid any situations, environments or circumstances which make them feel anxious. This can be avoiding leaving the house, travelling on a crowded bus or going to a busy supermarket. Avoidance ranges from mild to severe.Reassurance
– This behavioural pattern is displayed as the sufferer requiring reassurance when in a situation which raises their anxiety levels. It could be an inability to go shopping without a friend or being unable to spend time on their own.Safety behaviour
– This is a reliance on substances (drink, drugs, tobacco) or objects in order to cope with a stressful situation. For example, a sufferer may be unable to go outside unless they've taken medication or has to drink alcohol in order to cope with crowded places.Escape
– When faced with a stressful situation or environment, the agoraphobia sufferer will leave immediately and return to their safe place (typically their home).