Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that typically involves an intense fear of situations and places where escape is difficult and no help is available. For many people, the thought of crowds, bridges, elevators, public buildings, public transportation or elevators may be too much to handle.
Individuals with the disorder may also fear situations where they are laughed at, or where humiliation or embarrassment is possible. Agoraphobia may also involve an unreasonable fear of losing control, going crazy or dying. The fear may be so intense that it interferes with work, school, or other activities of daily life. Some people are unable to leave the safety of home.
What Causes Agoraphobia?
Experts aren’t sure why people develop agoraphobia, but it seems that the disorder may run in families. Frequently, a person who has had one or two severe panic attacks develops agoraphobia as a response to an extreme fear of having another attack.
Agoraphobia is more common in females. While the disorder frequently begins in adolescence or early adulthood, it can also affect young children.
Symptoms of Agoraphobia
Like any anxiety disorder, individuals with agoraphobia may experience a wide range of symptoms, including the following:
Shortness of breath
Feelings of choking
A “pins and needles” sensation
A sensation of being detached from the body
Depression, sometimes to the point of suicide