Application Of Clinical Psychology In Agoraphobia Essay

¶ … clinical psychology in a real-World situation. Overview of Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia refers to the fear of becoming embroiled in situations from which it may be difficult to escape, or situations wherein help is not available, if such a need arises. Several people believe that agoraphobia merely denotes fear of public places (open spaces); however, the condition is much more complex. An agoraphobic person may be afraid of:

travelling by any means of public transportation visiting a mall going out of home

If agoraphobics find that they are in any stressful situation, the usual panic attack symptoms they experience will be as follows:

quickening of heartbeat hyperventilation or rapid breathing feeling sick feeling warm and sweaty

Agoraphobics will avoid circumstances that may lead them to anxiety; they may only go out of home with a partner or friend. Such people would prefer ordering their groceries online to going to a supermarket. This behavioral change is called "avoidance" (, 2014).

What causes agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia generally develops in the form of a panic-disorder complication; (panic disorder is an anxiety syndrome involving instances of extreme fear and panic attacks). It may result from connecting panic attacks to the situations or places where they took place, and avoiding such situations/places. Few agoraphobics report no panic-attack history. For these cases, agoraphobia may be linked to issues like fear of crime, terrorism, suffering accidents, or illness. Bereavement and other such traumatic events, in addition to specific genes inherited from parents, may be contributory factors in development of agoraphobia (, 2014).

Discuss the biological, psychological, and social factors involved in your selected case.

Biological factors

Outlined below are some theories, regarding the biological factors that may be contributory to panic disorders:

1. 'Fight or flight' reflex

One of the theories with regard to panic disorder is that it is linked closely with the natural...


Fear and anxiety cause release of hormones like adrenalin in the body; heart rate and breathing quickens. This is the natural reaction of the human body to prepare for a stressful or hazardous situation. For those who have panic disorder, it is assumed that this reflex might trigger wrongly and often in the extreme, leading to panic attacks.
1. Neurotransmitters

A second theory is an imbalance exists in the brain's neurotransmitter levels, which can impact behavior and moods. This may cause a heightened response to stress in particular situations, thereby prompting panic.

1. The fear network

This theory proposes that people suffering panic disorders might have brains wired differently compared to that in majority of people. A malfunction may have occurred in the regions of their brains known to create fear, as well as the corresponding effect to the body wrought by fear. These people may generate intense emotions of dread, the cumulative effect of which could be a panic attack (nhs, 2014).

1. Spatial awareness

There are links between spatial awareness and panic disorders. The former refers to the ability of judging where one stands with respect to other people and objects. Some of those who have panic disorder show a weakened space-awareness and balance system, which may lead to them feeling unsettled and overwhelmed in crowded spaces, causing panic attacks (nhs, 2014).

Psychological factors

Psychological aspects that increase one's risk of becoming an agoraphobic include: a disturbing experience in childhood like experiencing sexual abuse or a parent's death, or encountering a stressful situation, like bereavement, loss of job, or divorce, prior mental-illness history, including anorexia, bulimia or depression, drug or alcohol abuse, being part of a relationship with adominant and overly-controlling partner, or being unhappy in one's relationship (, 2014).

Social factors


Sources Used in Documents:


[APA] American Psychiatric Association. Practice guidelines for the treatment of patients with panic disorder. Am J. Psychiatry. 1998; 155(Suppl 5):1 -- 34.

Baldwin DS, Anderson IM, Nutt DJ, et al. Evidence-based guidelines for the pharmacological treatment of anxiety disorders: recommendations from the British Association of Psychopharmacology. J Psychopharmacol. 2005; 19:567 -- 96.

Berger, V. (2005). Agoraphobia. Retrieved from psychologist anywhere:

Marchesi, C. (2008). Pharmacological management of panic disorder. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat, 93-106.
nhs. (2014, August 5). Agoraphobia - Causes. Retrieved from National Health Service: (2014, May 8). Agoraphobia. Retrieved from NHS:

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