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Key facts

  • Agoraphobia is a fear of being in certain situations that may be hard to leave, or where support may not be available.
  • It leads to avoidance of these places or situations.
  • Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that is common in people who have panic disorder and panic attacks.
  • Agoraphobia can impact your quality of life and prevent you from doing things.
  • Treatments like cognitive behavioural therapy are available to help you manage and overcome agoraphobia.

What is agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia is avoidance due to the fear of panicking in certain places or situations. These might include:

  • public transport
  • crowds such as supermarkets or shopping centres
  • queues
  • enclosed spaces

Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It is normal to sometimes feel anxious or worry. Anxiety becomes a disorder if it interferes with your daily life and causes you distress. Anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia can impact your ability to:

  • go to work or school
  • socialise with friends and family

Agoraphobia is also a type of phobia and often goes together with panic disorder and panic attacks.

What are the symptoms of agoraphobia?

If you have agoraphobia, you may avoid going to places to prevent anxiety or panic attacks where:

  • support may not be available
  • exit might be difficult

You may:

  • avoid these situations because of fear of having a panic attack
  • agree to go to these places only if you go with someone, or have your phone or a bottle of water — these are known as 'safety behaviours'

You may have agoraphobia even if you don't have panic attacks as a symptom.

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.

What causes agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia can be caused by many different things.

It may arise from a stressful event, or multiple stressful experiences. These can be:

  • a loss of a job or relationship
  • different stressful experiences over time, such as from childhood
  • or seemingly come 'out of the blue'

You are more likely to experience agoraphobia if you have:

  • anxiety
  • experienced a panic attack in the past
  • a family history of agoraphobia or anxiety

Panic attacks are very distressing. If you have a panic attack, you may begin to avoid any situation that could trigger another attack. Over time, this avoidance can grow to include more and more places.

When should I see my doctor?

If anxiety is affecting your daily life, talking to a doctor or a mental healthcare professional is the first step. They can help you get the right support and help you understand your treatment options.

You should talk to your doctor if:

  • you experience severe anxiety that prevents you from going certain places
  • you worry about how you will feel when you do certain activities and it affects how you live your life

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

How is agoraphobia diagnosed?

To diagnose agoraphobia, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms. The more detailed answers you can give about what you are experiencing, the better.

They might:

  • give you a questionnaire
  • do some psychological tests
  • perform a physical check-up

Your doctor will make sure there is not another problem that is making you feel this way. They can refer you to a specialist for more help, such as a:

If you are eligible, they can also help organise a Mental Health Treatment Plan.

How is agoraphobia treated?

There are different treatments that can help you manage and overcome agoraphobia. With the right support, information and treatment, most people with agoraphobia find that their symptoms improve, or they recover completely.

Psychological therapy

Psychological therapy such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is the most effective way to help treat agoraphobia. Therapy can teach you to:

  • understand panic attacks and anxiety (its effects on your thoughts and body)
  • manage panic attacks and anxiety when they happen
  • challenge the feelings that come with panic attacks, such as the fear of heart attack or breakdown
  • change behaviours that might make your anxiety worse
  • use relaxation techniques, such as breathing techniques
  • know that you are not alone, or going 'crazy'

Therapy usually happens by seeing a mental health professional in person, but it can sometimes be done:

  • online
  • over the phone

You can talk to your doctor about what is best for you.


You may benefit from medications as antidepressants if you have:

  • severe anxiety or agoraphobia
  • other mental health issues

You can talk to your doctor about medication options.

Support from friends and family

Tell your family and friends about how you are feeling. They can support you.

Can agoraphobia be prevented?

Sometimes, the cause of agoraphobia can't be prevented. However, recognising signs of panic and avoidance and getting treatment for agoraphobia can help you overcome it. It also prevents it getting bigger or generalising further.

If you begin to feel anxious more often, or experience a stressful event, seek support. Managing your anxiety can help prevent an anxiety disorder such as agoraphobia.

Complications of agoraphobia

If left unmanaged, agoraphobia can lead to a lower quality of life and other mental health issues such as:

If you think you might have agoraphobia, speak to your doctor.

Resources and support

To learn more about mental health you can visit Your Health in Mind.

Online information and support for anxiety is available from:

  • Beyond Blue or call 1300 22 4636
  • Black Dog Institute
  • E-couch — can help you to manage the symptoms of common mental health issues
  • MindSpot Clinic — support for Australian adults experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, and chronic pain
  • MoodGYM — an online self-help program designed to help users prevent and manage symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • This Way Up — offers Online evidence-based programs

Children and young people can get support from:

The Way Ahead website offers mental health information in a range of languages.

For advice and to get connected to local mental health services, you can call Head to Health on 1800 595 212. Check the operating times.

You can also call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222 (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria). A registered nurse is available to speak with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: October 2023

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