Agoraphobia, as classically defined, is an anxiety disorder characterized by a pervasive fear of situations or places that may trigger panic, leading to feelings of being trapped, helpless, or embarrassed. Individuals with agoraphobia often avoid scenarios such as using public transportation, being in open or enclosed spaces, standing in lines, or attending crowded events like concerts.

This fear is exaggerated and often accompanied by a sense of inability to escape. For instance, individuals may fear being unable to leave an airplane mid-flight or lack control over their surroundings as passengers. Agoraphobia frequently arises following a panic attack and may evolve over time, with specific fears morphing into new anxieties, such as the fear of experiencing a panic attack in situations without immediate escape options.

Individuals with agoraphobia may seek companionship from friends, partners, or companions and may employ safety behaviors such as online shopping to cope with their fears. In severe cases, agoraphobia can lead to the inability to leave one’s home.

Prevalence of Agoraphobia

  • 1-2% of adults in the United States carry Agoraphobia, some studies average the prevalence to 1.3%
  • Slightly higher in adolescence at 2.1%
  • More common in woman than men and quite often is noticeable before age 35

Risk factors for developing agoraphobia include:

  • Having a relative with agoraphobia (genetics is a leading cause of agoraphobia)
  • Panic attacks
  • Responding to those panic attacks with excessive fear and/or apprehension
  • Stressful life events that include physical assault, abuse or death of a loved one
  • The presence of anxiety or being an anxious person


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