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Agoraphobia is a fear of public spaces that is driven by a fear of having panic attacks. People with this condition commonly avoid crowded events, busy facilities, and public transportation. In addition to such avoidances, other agoraphobia symptoms include anxiety, hyperventilation, and accelerated heartbeat.
One of the most telltale agoraphobia symptoms is avoidance. People with the condition tend to avoid instances where they are exposed to other people. At the onset of the condition, the avoidance may not be severe, making it difficult for outsiders to notice. However, as the condition develops, public avoidance can become extreme and debilitating. In some instances, the condition becomes so severe that sufferers will rarely leave their homes.
Due to the nature of this condition, it should not be surprising that one of the most common agoraphobia symptoms is anxiety. It is normal for people to worry or to become anxious about certain things. Anxiety, however, is a permanent or semi-permanent state of mind that can be accompanied by physical and psychological symptoms for people with agoraphobia. The anxiety stems from the fear of having a panic attack that people will witness or from humiliation that will be caused when the sufferer tries to withdraw to avoid having others witness such an attack.
This condition is often characterized by disorientation. The phobia and the irrational thoughts associated with it can be so overwhelming that a person can lose her sense of direction, become confused, or lose the ability to concentrate. In addition to these symptoms of agoraphobia, there are also many physical effects, such as dizziness.
Hyperventilation is one of the most common physical symptoms. Hyperventilation is over-breathing. When a person hyperventilates, she may begin taking breaths that are deeper than necessary or she may breath at an abnormally fast pace. For people with agoraphobia, this can occur before they are forced to enter situation they fear, such as boarding a subway, or it can occur while they are in such a situation.
Accelerated heartbeat is also common. In many instances, when agoraphobic individuals feel trapped or fear that they will be trapped, their hearts begin to race. This may continue as long as they are confronted with or remain in a situation that presents fear.
The anguish they feel may be visible to others. Agoraphobia symptoms include flushing of the skin, which may be very noticeable when individuals have lighter skin tones. Even if others do not notice changes in skin color, they may be able to notice displays of being hot since many agoraphobic individuals feel that their body temperatures increases.