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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

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Last reviewed: July 2017

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