(Also Known As: Panic Attack Diagnosis, Fear Of Being Away From Home Diagnosis)
(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)
How is Agoraphobia Diagnosed?
Agoraphobia is diagnosed based on the presentation of the individual’s signs and symptoms. Diagnostic procedures include a thorough psychological evaluation as well as physical examination in order to rule out other medical conditions that could trigger the symptoms of Agoraphobia. Moreover, the individual will also undergo evaluation consisting of questions concerning the description of their symptoms such as when they occur, what they are, how intense are the symptoms and the duration of the symptoms as they occur. 3 The questioning will also involve how their daily functioning has been affected by the symptoms.
Agoraphobia may occur alone or with a panic attack and other anxiety disorders such as social phobia hence differential diagnosis is very important in order to define the most appropriate treatment plan for the patient.
In order to be accurately diagnosed with Agoraphobia alone, without a history of Panic Disorder, the following criteria must be met according to DSM-IV: 4
Marked intense fear with the panic attack generally limited to the symptoms
Avoidance or extreme distress
Not caused by or related to a physical condition
Symptoms not caused by another disorder
Symptoms do not meet the criteria for Panic Disorder
Generally there are a few basic criteria that merit the diagnosis of Agoraphobia which are:
Anxiety about being in places or situations that can be embarrassing or difficult to get out of
Feeling they will be unable to get help if they develop the panic-like symptoms
Avoidance of places and situations where they fear they will have an episode of panic attack
Misdiagnoses for Agoraphobia
Some individuals may experience anxiety symptoms and panic feelings which may be due to heart problems. These heart disorders can cause a person to feel anxious and behave irrationally. One common heart disorder is the Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP) which is linked with anxiety disorders and Agoraphobia. It is important that MVP must be examined in a person which might cause his or her anxiety-like conditions. The alternate diagnoses of Agoraphobia may already have been considered by your doctor or may need to be considered as a possible alternative diagnoses or as a candidate for misdiagnosis. 5
Could You Have Agoraphobia?
|Acute Stress Disorder – mental shock, psychological shock. terrifying events, stress, anxiety|
|Antisocial Personality Disorder – disregard of rights of others, pervasive aggressive behavior, sociopaths, antisocial, conduct disorder, psychopaths|
|Generalized Anxiety Disorder – irrational worry, anxiety episodes, uncontrolled fear, restlessness|
|Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – obsessive, compulsive acts, intrusive thoughts, anxiety, fear, perfectionist|
|Panic Disorder – panic attack, anxiety attack, excessive worrying, agoraphobia, anticipatory attacks|
|Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Nightmares, Insomnia, Sexual Abuse, Irritation, Social Impairment, Problems with Memory and Concentration, Intrusive Memories, Hyper-Vigilance|
|Social Anxiety Disorder – social phobia, social anxiety, unreasonable social fears, panic attack, agoraphobia, phobia|