Agoraphobia is often thought of as a fear of open spaces, but it's much more complex than this. Someone with agoraphobia will feel anxious about being in a place or situation where escaping may be difficult if they have a panic attack.

The fear is out of proportion to the actual situation and lasts generally six months or more and causes problems in functioning.

A person with agoraphobia experiences this fear in two or more of the following situations:

  • Using public transport
  • Being in open spaces
  • Being in enclosed places
  • Standing in line or being in a crowd
  • Being outside the home alone

Avoidance behaviour is prominent and is underpinned by anticipatory anxiety. Untreated agoraphobia can become so serious that a person may be unable to leave the house for months. A person can only be diagnosed with agoraphobia if the fear is intensely upsetting, or if it significantly interferes with normal daily activities.

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