Understand Agoraphobia in Adolescents – 2 Myths Debunked

Agoraphobia is among the common anxiety disorders.

While agoraphobia is common in adults, the condition is also prevalent in adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 years.

However, since agoraphobia is less known, parents may have a hard time identifying symptoms of this disorder. Consequently, both parents and teenagers may not be able to manage the condition until the symptoms escalate.

Therefore, the first step to proper agoraphobia management is to differentiate myths from facts. This step enables you to spot signs of this disorder in your kid and know the way forward. Read on to understand some myths about agoraphobia.

Myth: Agoraphobia Is the Same as Claustrophobia

Most individuals assume that agoraphobia and claustrophobia are similar. Indeed, both agoraphobia and claustrophobia are types of anxiety attacks that may cause panic attacks.

However, agoraphobia manifests as the fear of open spaces or situations where one cannot easily escape, such as in crowded places. Individuals with agoraphobia may become anxious:

  • When in crowded places
  • When in open spaces
  • When they travel on public transportation

In return, agoraphobic adolescents may develop avoidance and withdrawal behaviors. For instance, your teenage child may refuse to attend school and stay home instead. They may feel like they always need to have someone accompany them.

On the other hand, claustrophobia is the fear of enclosed places such as elevators and small rooms. Claustrophobic individuals may have no problem being in public places, but they avoid medical care routines that require them to be in small spaces. For instance, they may not want to undergo MRI and dental checkups.

Luckily, agoraphobia and claustrophobia are treatable with therapy, medication, and self-help strategies. Therefore, parents should be on the lookout for symptoms of these disorders in adolescents to help their children start treatment as soon as possible.

Myth: Agoraphobia Is the Fear to Leave Home

Some individuals overlook the symptoms of agoraphobia because they assume that the only characteristic of this disorder is the fear of leaving home. But that’s further from reality.

Agoraphobic individuals are not afraid to leave home but are hesitant about being in places where escape may be tricky or where help may not be available when they need assistance.

In severe agoraphobia situations, agoraphobic individuals will not want to leave spaces they consider safe. And for this reason, your adolescent child may refuse to leave home because home is the only place they deem safe. If your child agrees to leave, you may have to accompany them so that they will have someone to help them if anxiety kicks in while at the mall or other public places.

Therefore, you should not ignore other signs of agoraphobia simply because your child loves to go places with you. In the same way, if your adolescent child does not love to leave the house, you should not automatically diagnose them as agoraphobic. Instead, let an expert assess your child to rule out agoraphobia as the cause of your child’s behavior.

Note that agoraphobia is a common condition after a traumatic event, such as the death of a loved one. Besides, your child may also develop agoraphobia after being bullied at school.

As such, if you notice a sudden change of behavior that manifests as agoraphobia, you should contact an anxiety management expert immediately. You can trust us to evaluate your child’s symptoms and diagnose them correctly.

We will then offer effective therapy and treatment to help with symptoms management and allow your child to live a whole adult life. So contact us at the Anxiety Institute today, and let’s discuss how we can transform your loved one’s life.

About the Author

Headshot: Daniel Villiers, Ph.D.
Dr. Dan brings over ten years of experience working with children, adolescents, young adults and families in a range of clinical and educational settings.
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