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Agoraphobia Case Study

Updated December 27, 2021
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Agoraphobia Case Study essay

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Introduction

Meet Brooke, a 19-year old student who currently attends Montana State University – Bozeman. She is in her second year of trying to become an accountant. Brooke switched to online schooling through MSU-Bozeman after her freshman first semester and has been online ever since. Brooke had a very hard time living in a hall with 400 other people and stayed in her room most of the time. She hated being in the big crowds of people when there were events in the hall and walking on campus always made her nervous and she was scared to have a panic attack in these places.

Brooke then moved out of the residence halls after her first semester to a house with two roommates. Her parents really wanted her to try and branch out when going to college and heavily pushed her to be in the residence halls her freshman year. Brooke had always been quiet, but during Brooke’s senior year of high school she would rarely leave her room or the house to do anything with friends or extracurricular activities because of her panic attacks. She became a very big homebody. Now Brooke’s roommates usually do all the shopping for the house. Brooke will go with them occasionally but only when she can go with her roommates. From now on Brooke does all her school work from home and only leaves the house when she has someone to go with her and usually not for very long periods of time.

Discussion of Patient

It can be seen that Brooke displays many symptoms of Agoraphobia. She has completely shaped her life, so she doesn’t have to leave the house because she is afraid of having a panic attack in a public place. She demonstrates being afraid of being in situations where escape might be difficult or help unavailable, should she experience panic or become incapacitated (Comer pg.127).

Cognitive-Behavioral Model

This model is concerned with the impact the behavior cognition interplay often has on feelings and emotions (Comer pg. 59). In this model it explains how our actions are determined by our life experiences and how the positive and negative consequences shape our actions of the future. They heavily theorize with conditioning in this model. They go on to show how conditioning leads to changes in behavior. With classical conditioning association with two events that repeatedly occur close together in time become fused in a person’s mind and produce the same response (Comer pg. 60).

Treatment

The major cognitive-behavioral approach to treating specific phobias is exposure treatment (Comer pg. 130). However, with agoraphobia there have been changes and new approaches to give people relief. Treatment for agoraphobia that have been seen successful are varieties of exposure approaches. This can include helping clients to get further and further from home, get outside more often, and try things outside of the house. Support groups and home-based help programs are also implemented in the treatment for agoraphobia to help boost moral and keep the client motivated to keep doing treatment. Around 70% of agoraphobic clients who receive exposure treatment find it easier to enter public places (Comer pg. 132). Due to Brooke’s diagnosis, I believe that the correct treatment path should involve areas indicated above.

Limitations of Theory

Although the cognitive-behavioral model provides supporting evidence to the cause of agoraphobia and other specific phobias it is important to remember that there are many factors that contribute and may lead to agoraphobia. These include but are not limited to genetics, preparedness, and modeling. Someone’s genetic makeup could give them a precursor for this phobia. Along with preparedness and modeling someone could mimic agoraphobia or even have a predisposition to develop certain fears. So, although it appears that a phobia can be acquired by classical conditioning, researchers have not established that the disorder is ordinarily acquired in this way (Comer pg. 129).

Multicultural Issues

In a study done by Stefan Hofmann and Devon Hinton about cross-cultural aspects of anxiety disorders a person’s cultural background may lead to influencing the experience and expression of emotions. Together they found culturally related factors of how each culture relates the mind and body. They go on to explain how each different culture thinks differently and how that relates to their association with anxiety disorders. They explain how white Americans consistently endorse more symptoms of social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder more frequently than African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans (Hofmann & Hinton, 2015). These data can point to a strong contribution of culture on anxiety disorders and multicultural issues.

Stigma

Stigma is a term which is usually generalized thoughts or beliefs that are associated with a negative connotation. These negative thoughts or beliefs are placed on basically everything in society.

Learning to cope with the stigma on agoraphobia or any phobia can be difficult and interfere with getting treatment out of fear what people will think. There have been recent studies explaining why people hide their agoraphobia from people: “The study has shown that most research participants regularly made excuses to avoid places and situations where they fear having a panic attack. Also, people lied to protect their privacy and to avoid the social stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness. However, research participants often suffered a crisis of conscience about their lying and deceiving of others. Arguably, these people would not have had to hide their agoraphobia if mental illness was more socially understood and accepted” (Lemon).

It is very important to remember that even though there are all these stigmas on mental disorders including agoraphobia and panic attacks people with these are not just what is said. Everyone is an individual with a specific story.

Reflection

The class so far has been very interesting. In my family I do not know of anyone at least with any disorder. Learning about everything makes me feel more able to understand things I have not been able to understand yet.

Agoraphobia Case Study essay

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