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What is the definition of agoraphobia?

A phobia is usually defined as the severe, unrelenting fear of a situation, activity, or thing that makes one to want to avoid it. The definition of agoraphobia is the severe anxiety about being outside or otherwise being in a situation from which one either cannot escape or from which escaping would be difficult or embarrassing.

Phobias are often underreported and underdiagnosed, likely because many phobia sufferers find ways to avoid the situations to which they are phobic. The fact that agoraphobia often co-occurs with panic disorder makes it even more difficult to determine how often it occurs. Other statistics about agoraphobia include that researchers estimate it occurs from less than 1% to nearly 7% of the population. The age of onset for this condition is most often during the mid to late 20s.

Return to Agoraphobia

See what others are saying

Comment from: AnnH, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: June 12

I am a recovering agoraphobic. This disease has been a blessing and a curse. My first panic attack was at the age of 18. I was extremely lucky, I was able to find a doctor and therapist who specialized in agoraphobia. It took me 6 months of extreme therapy, exercise, relaxation exercise, and medication to get me out of the house. Within a year I was back in school but still very much in therapy. I started giving interviews to magazines and news stations, it was the 80s and mental disorder wasn't talked about much. I felt if this was going to be a part of me I'm going to share it. I'm in my late 40s now. I've had one minor setback in my 30s, and a major-ish set back in my 40s. It always shakes me up but I still meet my same doctor and I have the best therapist when I need her. This is who I am, yeah it sucks at times. But I appreciate the good times and life. The most important lesson I've learned is I don't care what people think of me.

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Comment from: Jane, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: May 30

My agoraphobia began in 1971. I went to 6 different psychiatrists, none of whom knew what was wrong with me. Finally my medical doctor prescribed anti-depressants, which I have been on for years. It took a month or two for the anxiety/panic attacks to lessen, but now I can function, thank goodness. I am dependent on my husband and do not go anywhere without him, but at least I am able to be out of the house. Without the drugs, I would still be housebound.

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Comment from: mary ross, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: May 21

When I was in my late 20s, I developed panic disorder. This became agoraphobia. I could not ride the bus, go to work. I did not leave my house for a year. I finally contacted my third psychiatrist who hospitalized me for 3 days, prescribing a low dose of clonazepam. I was very fragile but eventually became stable. Caution: I had a primary physician who tried to take me off this � this is a very bad thing to do. After all these years, I have gone from .05 mg to 1 mg, and sometimes split the 1 mg. As far as I am concerned, clonazepam saved my life.

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