Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that causes patients to have an intense fear of situations and places in which they might feel helpless, embarrassed, or trapped. Affected individuals might fear situations they anticipate will happen or that have actually happened. There's a common misconception that agoraphobia is a fear of being outdoors, but this is an oversimplification. Different individuals with agoraphobia may be afraid of different situations, and not all of them are afraid of the outdoors alone. Some common situations patients with agoraphobia might fear include standing in line, being in enclosed spaces, being in open spaces, or being in a crowd. The fear in these situations comes from the dread of not being able to escape or seek help if need be.
Different factors and experiences can influence the development of agoraphobia. Learn about them now.
Panic disorder is one of the most common conditions individuals have before developing agoraphobia. In fact, the majority of patients with agoraphobia develop it after they've experienced at least one panic attack. The helplessness of the panic attack makes them worry about the possibility of having another attack, especially in situations where they can't get away or get help. It's common for the fear to cause individuals to be so anxious that they have trouble feeling safe when they leave the house at all. A panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by sudden and seemingly nonsensical panic attacks. With some anxiety disorders, anxiety attacks are triggered by exposure to certain stimuli or circumstances. But panic attacks in panic disorder patients seem to happen without any cause or reason. Most individuals with panic disorder develop symptoms after they turn twenty years old, but there have been cases in which children have panic disorder. Women are more likely to develop panic disorder than men. Even when agoraphobia doesn't develop, panic disorder can interfere significantly with day-to-day life, so treatment is important.
Read more about the causes and risk factors for agoraphobia now.