Agoraphobia

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Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
agoraphobia (noun)
abnormal fear of being helpless in an embarrassing or unescapable situation that is characterized especially by the avoidance of open or public places
Agoraphobia (Wikipedia)
Agoraphobia
Agora of the Competaliasts 01 (cropped).jpg
An ancient agora in Delos, Greece. One of the public spaces after which the condition is named.
Specialty Psychiatry
Symptoms Anxiety in situations perceived to be unsafe, panic attacks
Complications Depression, substance use disorder
Duration > 6 months
Causes Genetic and environmental factors
Risk factors Family history, stressful event
Similar conditions Separation anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder
Treatment Cognitive behavioral therapy
Prognosis Resolution in half with treatment
Frequency 1.7% of adults
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Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by symptoms of anxiety in situations where the person perceives the environment to be unsafe with no easy way to get away. These situations can include open spaces, public transit, shopping malls, or simply being outside the home. Being in these situations may result in a panic attack. The symptoms occur nearly every time the situation is encountered and last for more than six months. Those affected will go to great lengths to avoid these situations. In severe cases people may become unable to leave their homes.

The cause of agoraphobia is a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The condition often runs in families, and stressful events such as the death of a parent or being attacked may be a trigger. In the DSM-5 agoraphobia is classified as a phobia along with specific phobias and social phobia. Other conditions that can produce similar symptoms include separation anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and major depressive disorder. Those affected are at higher risk of depression and substance use disorder.

Without treatment it is uncommon for agoraphobia to resolve. Treatment is typically with a type of counselling called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT results in resolution for about half of people. Agoraphobia affects about 1.7% of adults. Women are affected about twice as often as men. The condition often begins in early adulthood and becomes less common in old age. It is rare in children. The term "agoraphobia" is from Greek ἀγορά, meaning a "public square" and -φοβία, -phobia, meaning "fear".