Agoraphobia

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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What are the risk factors for agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia tends to begin by adolescence or early adulthood. Girls and women, Native Americans, middle-aged individuals, low-income populations, and individuals who are either widowed, separated, or divorced are at increased risk of developing agoraphobia. Individuals who are Asian, Hispanic, or of African/African-American descent tend to have a lower risk of developing this disorder.

Having a history of panic attacks is a risk factor for developing agoraphobia. Agoraphobic individuals are at increased risk for developing panic attacks, as well. Other anxiety disorders that tend to co-occur with agoraphobia include social anxiety disorder (social phobia) and generalized anxiety disorder. Even the use of alcohol can result in severe, albeit temporary anxiety.

When should one seek medical care for agoraphobia?

Call a doctor when the signs and symptoms of anxiety are not easily, quickly, and clearly relieved. For example,

When the signs and symptoms suggest that anxiety may have been present for a prolonged period (more than a few days) and appear to be stable (not getting significantly worse), it's advisable to make an appointment with a doctor for evaluation. But when the signs and symptoms are severe and come on suddenly, they may indicate serious medical illness that needs immediate evaluation and treatment in a hospital's emergency department.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/21/2015

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