Agoraphobia is often misunderstood as a phobia of leaving home. However, this is not quite accurate. Agoraphobia is a phobia of being in a situation where escape would be difficult or impossible, or help would be unavailable if a panic attack should occur.
Agoraphobia is often a progressive phobia, and may eventually lead to a fear of leaving the house. However, it is the panic attack, rather than the act of being in public, that is the cause of the fear. Symptoms of agoraphobia may include:
- Panicked Feelings: Agoraphobia can become a
self-replicating cycle. The sufferer is anxious about having a panic
attack which can, in turn, lead to a panic attack.
- Avoidant Behavior: Limiting life activities in an effort to
avoid situations where help for a panic attack may not be available.
- Clustering: A pattern of avoided situations is generally present. Common clusters include public transportation; shopping; driving; and leaving home.
Agoraphobia often develops out of an untreated panic disorder. More information about panic disorder with agoraphobia can be found at What is Agoraphobia? However, agoraphobia sometimes develops with no prior history of panic disorder. A mental health professional can determine whether your symptoms are those of agoraphobia or another disorder.Source:
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th Ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Symptoms of Phobias