Agoraphobia : Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention:

In this article you will learn about everything about agoraphobia definition, agoraphobia medication and its prevention & agoraphobia symptoms

Overview of Agoraphobia:

Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by an intense fear about any place or situation from which escape might be difficult, or where help might not be available if a problem occurs. People with agoraphobia often fear helplessness in situations in which strong anxiety, panic, or embarrassment can develop, and typically don’t feel comfortable or safe in public places — especially places that are crowded.

This fear may eventually cause a person with agoraphobia to want to stay at home, indoors, at all times. If they do leave the house, they may always need to have one particular person accompanying them. In ancient Greece, “agora” meant “the marketplace,” so agoraphobia is the term used to name the fear of being in a large, open, public space.

Signs and Symptoms of Agoraphobia:

If you have agoraphobia and end up in a place that scares you, you can become very anxious or panic.

Physical symptoms of this can include:
· Fast, pounding heart
· Sweating, trembling, shaking
· Breathing problems
· Feeling hot or cold
· Nausea or diarrhea
· Chest pain
· Problems swallowing
· Dizziness or feeling faint
You may feel like:
· You might not survive a panic attack.
· You’re not in control.
· You’ll look bad in front of others or that they’ll stare at you.
· You need to be with someone you trust when you go anywhere.
You also might have:
· A fear of being alone in your house
· A general feeling of dread

Agoraphobia Causes and Risk Factors:

Doctors aren’t sure what causes agoraphobia. They think it runs in families. You may get it if you have a lot of panic attacks. That’s when you have bursts of fear that come out of the blue and last for a few minutes. These happen when there’s no real danger. Less than 1% of people in the U.S. have agoraphobia. Women are two to three times more likely to have it than men, and it’s more common in teenagers and young adults.
A few other things that can raise your chances of it include having:
· Panic disorder, especially if it’s not treated
· Other phobias
· A family member who has agoraphobia
· A history of very stressful or traumatic events

How Is Agoraphobia Diagnosed?

Your doctor will make a diagnosis on the basis of your signs and symptoms, and may also conduct a physical exam or order blood tests to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms. According to the American Psychiatric Association, to be diagnosed with agoraphobia, you need to experience intense fear that you won’t be able to leave in the event of a panic attack or a possibly embarrassing event like fainting, in at least two of the following five situations:

  1. Using public transportation
  2. Being in open spaces, including parking lots, bridges, and malls
  3. Being in theaters and other enclosed spaces
  4. Waiting in line or being in a crowd
  5. Being outside of your home alone

These situations must also be ones that are avoided, gone through only with the presence of another person, or endured with intense fear. And these feelings and behaviors must go on for six months or more.

Prognosis :

With proper treatment, often a combination of psychotherapy and medication, many people can eventually manage their anxiety, in order to feel better and function, notes the Cleveland Clinic.


Your doctor will usually treat agoraphobia with therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. Therapy. Cognitive therapy can teach you new ways to think about or face situations that cause panic and help you be less afraid. You may also learn relaxation and breathing exercises. Sometimes your therapist may suggest exposure therapy, in which you gradually start to do some of the things that make you anxious.

Medicine. There are many drugs that your doctor might suggest for agoraphobia, but the most common are antidepressants. Doctors often start with a low dose of one of these medicines that raises the level of a “feel-good” chemical in your brain called serotonin. Some medications that help balance serotonin are citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram oxalate (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), and venlafaxine (Effexor). You’ll probably take medicine for at least 6 months to a year. If you feel better and no longer are stressed when you’re in places that used to scare you, your doctor may begin tapering off your medicine. For short-term relief, your doctor may recommend anti-anxiety medications, called benzodiazepines, in addition to antidepressants. These are sedatives that can help with your symptoms. You can start to depend on them, so you shouldn’t take them for long. And be sure to tell your doctor if you’ve had any issues with alcohol or drug abuse.
Alternative therapies. Applied relaxation is a series of exercises that help you notice when you start to feel tense and learn how to relax your muscles and ease that tension. It typically takes an hour-long session each week for 12 to 15 weeks. Other alternative therapies that may help include breathing exercises and meditation. Lifestyle changes. It can help to exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet. Skip caffeine and alcohol. They can make your symptoms worse.

Complications of Agoraphobia:

Severe agoraphobia can be incredibly limiting, interfering with routine, daily activities, such as going to work or school, seeing friends and family, or even leaving the house to run errands. Agoraphobia is associated with an increased risk of developing major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia), and substance use disorders, per Stat Pearls.

Diagnosis of Agoraphobia:

A lot of the symptoms caused by agoraphobia are the same as those of other medical conditions like heart disease, stomach issues, and breathing problems. So you may make several trips to the doctor or emergency room before you and your doctor figure out what’s really going on.

Your doctor may ask:
· Do you find it scary or stressful to leave your house?
· Do you have to avoid some places or situations?
· What happens if you end up in one of them?They’ll do a physical exam and maybe some tests to rule out any other medical problems. If they don’t find a physical reason for your symptoms, they’ll probably recommend that you see a psychiatrist or therapist. At your session, you’ll answer questions about your feelings and your behavior. According to standards created by the American Psychiatric Association, you could be diagnosed with agoraphobia if you feel extreme fear or panic in at least two of these situations:
· Outside your house by yourself
· In an open space, like a parking lot or mall
· In an enclosed space, like a theatre or small office
· In a line or in a crowd
· On public transportation, including planes

Prevention of Agoraphobia:

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), early treatment of agoraphobia symptoms may prevent the disorder from developing. If you recognize mild early signs or behaviors, you may able to act before the fear becomes overwhelming. For instance, if you start to feel anxious about feeling safe in a place where any actual risk of harm is low, you might face and reduce those fears by going to that place repeatedly, suggests the Mayo Clinic.


I hope  you learnt about everything about agoraphobia definition, agoraphobia medication and its prevention & agoraphobia symptoms.
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Subin Joshua
Author: Hi there, my name is Subin Joshua, and I am a Medical student. I grew up in a family of teachers and know that being a social worker is my calling. My passion for helping others has been evident in my involvement in helping the poor and needy for the last three years. Through those experiences, I have learned to interact with a diverse group of people, which has increased my ability to relate to others.