1. Education
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

What Is Agoraphobia?

Symptoms and Treatments

By

Agoraphobia is defined as a fear of open spaces, but this description can be misleading. Agoraphobics are afraid of the anxiety response that occurs in certain situations, such as at work, school, or in other places outside of the home. In order to avoid experiencing these feelings of panic, individuals with agoraphobia may avoid these situations and may become entirely housebound in some cases.

A more accurate definition of agoraphobia would be that it is both a phobia and an anxiety disorder characterized by avoidance of the situations that trigger the anxiety response.

Learn more about the symptoms and treatments of agoraphobia.

Symptoms of Agoraphobia

Individuals with agoraphobia:
  • Often experience depressed mood and exhibit anxious or fearful behaviors.

  • Experience anxiety about places or situations where escape may be difficult and may suffer panic-attacks.

  • Common problem situations include being outside of the home, traveling in a car, being on a bridge, or being in crowds.

  • Before diagnosis clinicians need to rule out other disorders such as specific phobias, social phobias, and post traumatic stress disorder.

Treatments for Agoraphobia

  • Psychiatric drugs such as SSRI’s and benzodiazepines can be effect when treating agoraphobics who also experience panic attacks. Treatments tend to be more effective when combined with behavioral therapy.

  • Systematic desensitization can also be effective. This approach involves gradual exposure to real-life feared situations.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.