What Is Agoraphobia?

What Is Agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia is a rare type of anxiety disorder. If you have it, your fears keep you from getting out into the world. You avoid certain places and situations because you think you’ll feel trapped and not be able to get help.

For example, you might worry or panic when you are in:

  • Public transportation (buses, trains, ships, or planes)
  • Large, open spaces (parking lots, bridges)
  • Closed-in spaces (stores, movie theaters)
  • Crowds or standing in line
  • Being outside your home alone

You may be willing to go just a handful of places, or you may even dread leaving your house. 

Agoraphobia Causes and Risk Factors

Doctors aren’t sure what causes agoraphobia. They think it runs in families. You may haveit 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
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