Agoraphobia: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

What is Agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia is a phobia that simply means the fear that causes anxiety disorder when people feel trapped, embarrassed, helpless, or scared. This can also force people to avoid places and situations that make them feel suffocated. The people suffering from this phobia often find themselves in a stressful situation.

In many cases, this phobia can be so severe that people start to avoid practicing their daily activities, such as going to that market or grocery store and stay inside their safe homes for most of the day.

Symptoms of Agoraphobia include:

Many people also experience these symptoms before they even enter their serious situations. People suffering from agoraphobia often realize their fear is irrational, but they’re unable to do anything about it. Some of the symptoms are –

  • Rapid heartbeat: People with agoraphobia mostly suffer from a panic attack, such as a rapid heartbeat and nausea,
  • Rapid breathing: They start to get difficulty while breathing when they are in situations that make them scared or trapped.
  • Feeling hot and sweaty: Automatically their body starts to release sweat when they feel helpless or embarrassed.
  • Chest pain: Their chest starts to liberate pain as their heartbeat and breathing increases rapidly.
  • Difficulty in swallowing: Due to continuously engaging in suffocating situations people suffering from agoraphobia can have problems swallowing their food. 
  • Trembling: Their legs start to shake and tremble.
  • They are afraid of leaving their home for extended periods of time or when alone.
  • Anti-Socialize: They are afraid of being alone or losing their control in the social situation.

If you ever suspect yourself having agoraphobia, so it’s necessary to start treatment as soon as possible as treatment can help to manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life.

What Causes Agoraphobia?

The exact cause of agoraphobia is unknown till now. However, there are still many factors known to increase the risk of developing agoraphobia. These include :

  • Depression: If in the past the person has gone through series of bad incidents that left a long time impression on him
  • Any other phobias: If a person is suffering from some other phobias such as claustrophobia and social phobia then he is more prone to suffer from agoraphobia.
  • Any anxiety disorder: If a person is suffering from some other anxiety disorder such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • Physical or sexual abuse: If a person has gone through a history of physical or sexual abuse then he is more likely to suffer from this phobia. 
  • A family history of agoraphobia: If the past generations have also suffered from agoraphobia then Gene’s are most like to be transmitted to future generations.

Agoraphobia is also more common in women than in men and the symptoms of agoraphobia can emerge at any age.

How Is Agoraphobia Diagnosed?

Agoraphobia is diagnosed based on symptoms and signs. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, i.e. when they started and how often you experience them.

To be diagnosed with agoraphobia, your symptoms need to meet the criteria listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

Some of the questions asked by the Doctors included-

Do you feel panicked –

  • being in enclosed spaces, such as an elevator or car?
  • using public transportation, such as a train or bus?
  • being in a crowd or being away from home alone?

Doctors may also perform blood tests to know about physical causes for your symptoms. You won’t be diagnosed with agoraphobia if the symptoms are caused by another illness. 

How Is Agoraphobia Treated?

Depending on the severity of your condition, treatment consists of therapies and medications.

1. Therapy in the form of psychotherapy

It is also known as talk therapy. In this, the therapist allows you to talk about your fears that may be contributing to your phobia. Psychotherapy is often combined with medications for effectiveness. Mostly it is a short-term treatment that can be stopped once you cope with all your fears and anxiety.

2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a common form of psychotherapy used to treat agoraphobia. It can help you understand your feelings and views related to agoraphobia. It also teaches you how to work through stressful situations by replacing your distorted thoughts with good thoughts, allowing you to control your actions. 

3. Medications

Certain medications can help relieve agoraphobia which includes:

  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as paroxetine or fluoxetine.

You may also try:

  • Exercising regularly: As it increases the production of brain chemicals that make you feel
  • Healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet that consists of whole grains.
  • Meditation or deep breathing exercises: To reduce anxiety and fi panic attacks


Ques. What is agoraphobia fear of?
Ans.  It is a fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult and the person feels suffocated, trapped, or scared.  

Ques. Is agoraphobia severe?
Ans. About 40 percent of cases are considered severe. 

Ques. How much time does it require to be cured?
Ans. Depending on the severity of your condition, treatment can take time accordingly. 

Ques. Can it be fully cured?
Ans. Yes, it can be fully cured if treatment is performed by a certified doctor and you are also taking enough pain to get cured.

Ques. What are its most common symptoms?
Ans. Panic attacks are a series of symptoms that occur in people with anxiety and other mental health disorders.

Ques. What is the outlook for people with agoraphobia?
Ans. It’s not always possible to prevent agoraphobia. However, early treatment for anxiety or panic disorders may help. With treatment, there’s a good chance of getting better.

Ques. Is the treatment effective?
Ans. Treatment tends to be easier if started earlier, so if you suspect yourself to have agoraphobia, don’t hesitate to seek help. There’s no cure, but treatment can relieve your symptoms and improve the quality of your life.

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