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What is agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia is often thought to mean that people are afraid of 'open spaces', but this is only half the story. Many people with panic disorder avoid situations because of their fears. This avoidance is known as agoraphobia.

Signs and symptoms of agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is linked to panic disorder and also belongs to a group of conditions called specific phobias.

People with specific phobias might also practise avoidance in less noticeable ways like avoiding exercise or sex. Panic and related phobias like agoraphobia can seriously impede an individual's ability to go to work or socialise with friends and family.

Signs of agoraphobia include:

  • avoiding situations because of concern you’ll have a panic attack, or only going with someone who you think can help you if you do have a panic attack
  • experiencing anxiety or fear about being in places where escape might be difficult, such as public transport or in large crowds at a concert
  • feeling anxious or panic when you can’t avoid certain situations.

More information

Not sure what to do next?

If you or someone you know are finding it difficult to manage mental health issues, try healthdirect’s symptom checker and get advice on when to seek professional help.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: July 2017

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A person with agoraphobia is afraid to leave familiar environments, because they are afraid of having a panic attack.

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This Cognitive Behavioural Therapy course from This Way Up will help you learn to combat panic attacks, panic disorder, and agoraphobia.

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What is panic disorder and agoraphobia?

The exact causes of panic disorder are still unclear but there is some evidence of a family tendency to nervousness and a link with major life events and stresses. What this means is that if a member of the family has suffered from panic, there is an increased risk of you suffering from it, especially when you are stressed. Often people with panic disorder have always thought of themselves as 'worry worts' or sensitive but this may not always be the case.

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Those affected by panic disorder can experience feelings of panic out of the blue and for no apparent reason.

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How Do You Feel | THIS WAY UP

Struggling with your thoughts or behavior, or worried about a loved one? Learn about a range of mental health disorders and conditions.

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