Agoraphobia (ag-uh-ruh-FOE-be-uh) is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and often avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.


      Currently, it is not known precisely what causes agoraphobia and other panic disorders. Areas of the brain that control the fear response may play some role, as could genes and environmental factors, given that there is evidence of anxiety disorders running within families.

       Agoraphobia also sometimes occurs after a person has had one or more panic attacks and begins to fear situations that could potentially lead to panic attacks in the future. Other panic disorders or phobias can play a developmental role.


   Agoraphobia like all other phobias is seen to occur more commonly in women than men and The condition usually develops during the late 20's or in the early 30's of ones life.

It is characterized by a sudden onset of symptoms without any apparent cause and in some situations the severity of the condition is known to reduce spontaneously.

Agoraphobia is reported to affect approximately 3.2 million American adults between ages 18 to 54 or about 2.2% of people of this age group in a year. Statistics on Agoraphobia show that the lifetime prevalence is estimated at around 5-12%.

The incidence of agoraphobia is seen to be similar across races and ethnic groups in the U.S.

Possible Complications

INCREASED RISK FOR SUICIDE :  Social phobias and OCD also increase the risk of suicide. If a person has an anxiety disorder and a mood disorders (such as depression), the risk for suicide is even higher.

ALCOHOLISM AND OTHER FORMS OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE : Severely depressed or anxious people are at high risk for alcoholism, smoking, and other forms of addiction.

EFFECTS ON WORK, SCHOOL, AND RELATIONSHIPS : Anxiety disorders can have negative effects on work and relationships.



   Diagnostic criteria for agoraphobia include severe fear or anxiety about two or more of the following situations:

Using public transportation, such as a bus or plane

Being in an open space, such as a parking lot, bridge or large mall

Being in an enclosed space, such as a movie theater, meeting room or small store

Waiting in a line or being in a crowd

Being out of your home alone


 Agoraphobia treatment usually includes both psychotherapy and medication. It may take some time, but treatment can help you get better.  


Also known as talk therapy or psychological counseling, psychotherapy involves working with a therapist to reduce your anxiety symptoms. You can learn:

That your fears are unlikely to come true

That your anxiety gradually decreases if you remain in public and you can manage those symptoms until they do

What factors may trigger a panic attack or panic-like symptoms and what makes them worse

How to cope with these symptoms

How to change unwanted or unhealthy behaviors through desensitization, also called exposure therapy, to safely face the places and situations that cause fear and anxiety.


Antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications are often used to treat agoraphobia and panic symptoms that frequently accompany agoraphobia.


Typical agoraphobia symptoms include:

Fear of being alone in any situation.

Fear of being in crowded placesFear of losing control in a public place.

Fear of being in places where it may be hard to leave, such as an elevator or train.

Inability to leave your home (housebound) or only able to leave it if someone else goes with you.

Sense of helplessness.

Overdependence on others.

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