MENTAL WELLNESS

Agoraphobia and Social Anxiety: 2 Anxiety Disorders and their Differences

Agoraphobia and social anxiety are types of anxiety disorders

Socially anxious people fear being embarrassed or judged

Agoraphobia is the fear or avoidance of certain situations or places

D
Dr. Sushant Mishra
October 11th, 2021
8 mins read

Mental illness has been on the rise worldwide with a 13% increase in the last decade [1]. A 2017 study estimated active mental health disorders in about 792 million adults [2]. Anxiety and depression were the most commonly found mental disorders.

Anxiety disorders can be of various types, some of which are related to phobias. Agoraphobia and social anxiety are two such types of phobias [3]. However, these two conditions are often mistaken for each other. Read on to find out more their symptoms and treatments.

Additional read: Anxiety and Ways of Managing it

Agoraphobia 

Agoraphobia is fear, anxiety, or avoidance of situations or places such as those listed below. 

  • Open spaces 
  • Leaving the house 
  • Panic attack in public 
  • Waiting in line or a huge crowd 
  • Staying away from home alone
  • Traveling in public transportation
  • Enclosed spaces such as elevators
  • Being in a place where help isn’t available

The fear and anxiety felt by those with agoraphobia are not in line with the actual risk as experienced by others. Agoraphobics often experience the given symptoms. 

  • Nausea 
  • Headache 
  • Dizziness 
  • Chest pain 
  • Stomach issues
  • Breathing difficulty
  • A rise in heart rate
  • Sweating and shaking
  • Uncontrollable feelings

Agoraphobia treatment involves psychotherapy, anti-anxiety and antidepressant medicine, and alternative medication. You can manage it with lifestyle changes such as quitting alcohol, drugs, and caffeine and having a nutritious diet [4]. You can also do breathing exercises and work out regularly.

types of anxiety

Social anxiety 

Also known as social phobia, this is a condition where a person fears being embarrassed or judged by others. It is a feeling of overwhelming worry and self-consciousness in social situations.

Here are some common social anxiety symptoms. 

  • Fear of being judged  
  • Anxiety before an event or activity 
  • Avoiding people or situations out of fear 
  • Fear of being embarrassed or humiliated
  • Avoiding events where you are the center of attention
  • Doubting yourself or finding flaws in your interactions
  • Fear of communicating with strangers
  • Expecting the worst outcomes while interacting
  • Fear of offending others

People facing social anxiety usually avoid going to parties, interacting with strangers, or starting conversations. Similar to agoraphobia, social anxiety treatment includes psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Doctors also prescribe medications including antidepressants and beta blockers. You may also depend on alternative medicine.

The link between agoraphobia and social anxiety 

Those with agoraphobia and social anxiety often resort to the use of alcohol and other substances to cope. Panic attacks are also common to both agoraphobia and social anxiety. A panic attack is a feeling of sudden fear along with increased heart rate, breathlessness, and nausea without any cause. You are diagnosed with panic attacks when you experience recurring attacks and when you worry about more to come in the future. Those having panic attacks on a regular basis are at a risk of developing agoraphobia and social anxiety. Social anxiety and panic attacks may also occur together.

The difference between anxiety and panic attacks is also important to know. Those with panic disorder experience severe anxiety attacks along with physical symptoms. In contrast, those with social anxiety experience intense anxiety in social situations. For such people, anxiety is fear and not a physical or medical condition [5].

Difference between agoraphobia and social anxiety 

A person with agoraphobia fears losing control or having anxiety attacks in a particular situation. An individual with social anxiety worries about embarrassment, judgment, and rejection in a social situation. Although both types of phobias lead to avoiding situations, the reasons for the avoidance differ.

Additional read: Coping With Anxiety During the Pandemic

Agoraphobia and social anxiety can thus keep you from enjoying life to the fullest. Such types of mental illnesses are damaging to your overall health. So, address these conditions early and do all you can to help those dealing with them. An effective way to address such phobias is to book an online doctor consultation on Bajaj Finserv Health. This way, you or loved ones can get help from the comfort of home. Consult with professionals near you to get the best agoraphobia and social anxiety disorder treatment.

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.

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