What is agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia is a kind of anxiety disorder. Individuals with agoraphobia experience extreme fear or panic of being in a location or situation that makes them feel powerless, confined, or embarrassed. They have intense and irrational fear/anxiety about going certain places or being in certain situations. People with agoraphobia will purposefully avoid these situations/locations at all costs. Often these people will have a specific situation that they fear/avoid such as crowds, having to stand in line, or any other normal daily activity. Typically, they are afraid that if they go to these places they will have a panic attack, and will be unable to get away or find help.
In many cases of agoraphobia, the person has previously experienced a panic attack or also has a panic disorder. They then become afraid that they will have a panic attack again, resulting in them avoiding the location or situation where it originally happened. Agoraphobia can occur in people who don’t have panic disorders as well though. 
In extreme cases, agoraphobics can be too afraid to leave the house, and don’t feel safe anywhere besides at home. Sometimes people with agoraphobia may need someone with them anytime they go out in public in order to feel at ease. 
Risk factors
  • Having a phobia or phobias
  • Having a panic disorder
  • Having previously experienced a panic attack
  • Having a relative with agoraphobia
  • Stressful life events (specifically death of a loved one, abuse, or being attacked)
  • History of having an anxious/nervous temperament 
  • Responding to fear/anxiety with avoidance
  • Sex (agoraphobia is more common in women)
  • Parental overprotection
  • Separation from a parent
Agoraphobia is diagnosed through a complete medical history and examination by your doctor or a mental health professional. Diagnosis is based on the signs and symptoms experienced and by meeting the criteria for agoraphobia that is described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Your primary care physician may recommend you to a psychiatrist if agoraphobia is suspected. 
Treatment for agoraphobia often involves both psychotherapy and medication. The type of psychotherapy most frequently used for agoraphobia is called cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). The types of medications that are most often prescribed for agoraphobia are anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs. 
  • 6 million Americans have a panic disorder
  • Women 2x as likely to experience agoraphobia as men
  • Most people with agoraphobia will usually develop it before the age of 35 with the average onset being between 25 and 30
  • A little under 2% of adults in America have been diagnosed with agoraphobia
  • 40.6% of cases of agoraphobia in America are considered severe
  • It is estimated that 1/3 of people who have panic attacks will develop agoraphobia 
about agoraphobia

  • “Agoraphobia.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 22 Mar. 2017. Web. 1 Aug. 2017.
  • “Agoraphobia.” Cleveland Clinic, 8 May. 2015. Web. 1 Aug. 2017.
  • “Agoraphobia Among Adults.” National Institute of Mental Health, 6 Jun. 2005. Web. 1 Aug. 2017. 
  • “Facts & Statistics.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 1 Aug. 2016. Web. 1 Aug. 2017.
  • “Agoraphobia.” John’s Hopkins Psychiatry Guide. John’s Hopkin’s Medicine, 21 Nov. 2014. Web. 1 Aug. 2017.


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