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Last Updated on : 01st Oct, 2012

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What is Agoraphobia?

The main feature of agoraphobia is worry about being in situations in which escape might be difficult or embarrassing in the event of an unexpected or situationally predisposed panic attack or panic-like symptoms. This worry may also come from anxiety about not having help available in the event of a panic attack.

Those suffering from agoraphobia are typically fearful of the types of public situations that may include being outside of the home, being in a crowded place, or traveling. These situations are often avoided or endured with extreme anxiety about having a panic attack or panic-like symptoms. Those suffering from agoraphobia often times ask friends to keep them company in situations in which escape may be difficult or embarrassing.

In terms of variable diagnoses, agoraphobia either occurs as "Panic Disorder With Agoraphobia" or "Agoraphobia Without History of Panic Disorder."

 For specific treatment options, please refer to the “Anxiety – General Symptoms” table


Examples of Agoraphobia
Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia

Jen is a 13-year-old eighth grader with a history of both unexpected (uncued) panic attacks and situationally induced panic attacks. She suffers from a panic attack or similar symptoms approximately 3 - 4 times per week. During these panic attacks, Jen perspires, shakes, feels as if she were suffocating, feels dizzy, and fears that she is dying or "going crazy." Jen often worries about having future panic attacks and has developed a great deal of worry about going to public or crowded places. Jen hates riding on airplanes or buses, eating in the cafeteria or a restaurant, and going to concerts or parties because she worries that a panic attack in these places will be horribly embarrassing and escape will be difficult. Although Jen sometimes regrets missing out on a lot of fun activities with her friends and family, she usually feels as though it is not worth the risk of "being trapped" if her symptoms reappear.

Agoraphobia without History of Panic Disorder

Ben is an 11-year-old sixth grader who often avoids crowded places like shopping malls. He especially does not like traveling long distances in cars, buses, or trains, eating in the school cafeteria or restaurants, and going to the movies. Ben is not afraid of those places, per se, but once he gets there he gets extremely worried that he might develop uncomfortable feelings in his body like a fast beating heart or feelings of dizziness. Once in these places, he also worries that getting out of these situations will be difficult and embarrassing. Ben's panic attacks and panic-like symptoms are always linked with going to these public or crowded places; he has never experienced an unexpected (uncued) panic attack outside of these situations. Ben is very self-conscious about experiencing these symptoms in front of others and, as a result, he often excludes himself from activities with friends.


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