Description

Agoraphobia (ag-uh-ruh-FOE-be-uh) is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed. You fear an actual or anticipated situation, such as using public transportation, being in open or enclosed spaces, standing in line, or being in a crowd.The anxiety is caused by fear that there's no easy way to escape or get help if the anxiety intensifies. Most people who have agoraphobia develop it after having one or more panic attacks, causing them to worry about having another attack and avoid the places where it may happen again.People with agoraphobia often have a hard time feeling safe in any public place, especially where crowds gather. You may feel that you need a companion, such as a relative or friend, to go with you to public places. The fear can be so overwhelming that you may feel unable to leave your home.Agoraphobia treatment can be challenging because it usually means confronting your fears. But with psychotherapy and medications, you can escape the trap of agoraphobia and live a more enjoyable life.DiarrheaDizzinessOverviewSymptoms & causesDiagnosis & treatmentDiagnosisTreatmentPreparing for your appointmentSelf-managementMore aboutIn-DepthResourcesDiagnosisTreatmentPreparing for your appointmentIn-DepthResources

Causes

ClinicalTrials

Complications

Appointment

Diagnosis

If you have agoraphobia, you may be too afraid or embarrassed to go to your doctor's office. Consider starting with a phone call to your doctor or a mental health professional, or ask a trusted family member or friend to go with you to your appointment.To prepare for your appointment, make a list of: Any symptoms you've been experiencing, and for how long Things you have stopped doing or are avoiding because of your stress Key personal information, especially any significant stress or life changes that you experienced around the time your symptoms first developed Medical information, including other physical or mental health conditions that you have All medications, vitamins, herbs or other supplements you're taking, and the dosages Questions to ask your doctor so that you can make the most of your appointment Some basic questions to ask your doctor may include: What do you believe is causing my symptoms? Are there any other possible causes? How will you determine my diagnosis? Is my condition likely temporary or long term (chronic)? What type of treatment do you recommend? I have other health problems. How best can I manage these together? What is the risk of side effects from the medication you're recommending? Are there options other than taking medications? How soon do you expect my symptoms to improve? Should I see a mental health professional? Are there any printed materials that I can have? What websites do you recommend? Don't hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment.Your doctor will likely ask you a number of questions. Be ready to answer them to reserve time to go over any points you want to focus on. Your doctor may ask: What symptoms do you have that concern you? When did you first notice these symptoms? When are your symptoms most likely to occur? Does anything seem to make your symptoms better or worse? Do you avoid any situations or places because you fear they'll trigger your symptoms? How are your symptoms affecting your life and the people closest to you? Have you been diagnosed with any medical conditions? Have you been treated for other mental health disorders in the past? If yes, what treatment was most helpful? Have you ever thought about harming yourself? Do you drink alcohol or use recreational drugs? How often? DiarrheaDizzinessOverviewSymptoms & causesDiagnosis & treatmentDiagnosisTreatmentPreparing for your appointmentSelf-managementMore aboutIn-DepthResourcesDiagnosisTreatmentPreparing for your appointmentIn-DepthResources

Experience

Research

RiskFactors

Speciality

Symptoms

SymptomsAndCauses

Typical agoraphobia symptoms include fear of: Leaving home alone Crowds or waiting in line Enclosed spaces, such as movie theaters, elevators or small stores Open spaces, such as parking lots, bridges or malls Using public transportation, such as a bus, plane or train These situations cause anxiety because you fear you won't be able to escape or find help if you start to feel panicked or have other disabling or embarrassing symptoms.In addition: Fear or anxiety almost always results from exposure to the situation Your fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual danger of the situation You avoid the situation, you need a companion to go with you, or you endure the situation but are extremely distressed You experience significant distress or problems with social situations, work or other areas in your life because of the fear, anxiety or avoidance Your phobia and avoidance usually lasts six months or longer Some people have a panic disorder in addition to agoraphobia. Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder in which you experience sudden attacks of extreme fear that reach a peak within a few minutes and trigger intense physical symptoms (panic attacks). You might think that you're totally losing control, having a heart attack or even dying.Fear of another panic attack can lead to avoiding similar circumstances or the place where it occurred in an attempt to prevent future panic attacks.Signs and symptoms of a panic attack can include: Rapid heart rate Trouble breathing or a feeling of choking Chest pain or pressure Lightheadedness or dizziness Feeling shaky, numb or tingling Excessive sweating Sudden flushing or chills Upset stomach or diarrhea Feeling a loss of control Fear of dying Agoraphobia can severely limit your ability to socialize, work, attend important events and even manage the details of daily life, such as running errands.Don't let agoraphobia make your world smaller. Call your doctor if you have signs or symptoms listed above.Biology — including health conditions and genetics — temperament, environmental stress and learning experiences may all play a role in the development of agoraphobia.Agoraphobia can begin in childhood, but usually starts in the late teen or early adult years — usually before age 35 — but older adults can also develop it. Women are diagnosed with agoraphobia more often than men are.Risk factors for agoraphobia include: Having panic disorder or other phobias Responding to panic attacks with excessive fear and avoidance Experiencing stressful life events, such as abuse, the death of a parent or being attacked Having an anxious or nervous temperament Having a blood relative with agoraphobia Agoraphobia can greatly limit your life's activities. If your agoraphobia is severe, you may not even be able to leave your home. Without treatment, some people become housebound for years. You may not be able to visit with family and friends, go to school or work, run errands, or take part in other normal daily activities. You may become dependent on others for help.Agoraphobia can also lead to or be associated with: Depression Alcohol or drug abuse Other mental health disorders, including other anxiety disorders or personality disorders DiarrheaDizzinessOverviewSymptoms & causesDiagnosis & treatmentDiagnosisTreatmentPreparing for your appointmentSelf-managementMore aboutIn-DepthResourcesDiagnosisTreatmentPreparing for your appointmentIn-DepthResources

Treatment

If you have agoraphobia, you may be too afraid or embarrassed to go to your doctor's office. Consider starting with a phone call to your doctor or a mental health professional, or ask a trusted family member or friend to go with you to your appointment.To prepare for your appointment, make a list of: Any symptoms you've been experiencing, and for how long Things you have stopped doing or are avoiding because of your stress Key personal information, especially any significant stress or life changes that you experienced around the time your symptoms first developed Medical information, including other physical or mental health conditions that you have All medications, vitamins, herbs or other supplements you're taking, and the dosages Questions to ask your doctor so that you can make the most of your appointment Some basic questions to ask your doctor may include: What do you believe is causing my symptoms? Are there any other possible causes? How will you determine my diagnosis? Is my condition likely temporary or long term (chronic)? What type of treatment do you recommend? I have other health problems. How best can I manage these together? What is the risk of side effects from the medication you're recommending? Are there options other than taking medications? How soon do you expect my symptoms to improve? Should I see a mental health professional? Are there any printed materials that I can have? What websites do you recommend? Don't hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment.Your doctor will likely ask you a number of questions. Be ready to answer them to reserve time to go over any points you want to focus on. Your doctor may ask: What symptoms do you have that concern you? When did you first notice these symptoms? When are your symptoms most likely to occur? Does anything seem to make your symptoms better or worse? Do you avoid any situations or places because you fear they'll trigger your symptoms? How are your symptoms affecting your life and the people closest to you? Have you been diagnosed with any medical conditions? Have you been treated for other mental health disorders in the past? If yes, what treatment was most helpful? Have you ever thought about harming yourself? Do you drink alcohol or use recreational drugs? How often? DiarrheaDizzinessOverviewSymptoms & causesDiagnosis & treatmentDiagnosisTreatmentPreparing for your appointmentSelf-managementMore aboutIn-DepthResourcesDiagnosisTreatmentPreparing for your appointmentIn-DepthResources