Adults with agoraphobia avoid situations where they think they will not be able to escape or find help. They avoid these situations due to fear of having a panic attack or other anxiety-related feelings.
What are the avoided situations?
The types of situations that people avoid include:
- Using public transportation (e.g. bus, train, car)
- Being in open spaces (e.g. fields, parks)
- Being in enclosed spaces (e.g. elevators, tunnels)
- Standing in line or being in a crowd
- Being outside of the home alone
NOTE: Sometimes you fear a situation because you think it will be embarassing to leave the situation (e.g. lunch with a friend, line at the grocery store) and not that you will be unable to leave (e.g. elevator)
What am I trying to avoid?
Anxiety-related feelings including:
- Panic attacks (see Panic Disorder for more information)
- Incapacitating or embarrassing panic-like sensations (e.g. loss of bowel control, feeling dizzy or falling over)
NOTE: Although it is common to have both, there are some people with agoraphobia who do not have panic disorder. Individuals who have agoraphobia without panic disorder tend to fear having incapacitating or embarrassing panic-like sensations; however, they don’t have a history of experiencing unexpected and repeated panic attacks.
How do I know if I have agoraphobia?
- Individuals with agoraphobia avoid at least 2 of the types of situations mentioned above (e.g. riding on buses and standing in line).
- The fear experienced is out of proportion to the situation. Avoiding a situation that is dangerous (e.g. a dangerous neighborhood) is NOT considered agoraphobia.
- Some individuals with agoraphobia are able to enter these situations but do so with extreme dread and discomfort.
- Once someone with agoraphobia begins avoiding certain situations they often find themselves avoiding more and more situations until they are avoiding almost everything.
Source: Anxiety Canada www.anxietycanada.com/disorders/agoraphobia/