Here, you can find out everything you wanted to know about agoraphobia (or at least we hope so!). You can click (or touch) each of the headings below to find out more about specific aspects of the condition.
We hope you find the information useful and if you do, please feel free to share it.
Agoraphobia is often thought of as a fear of open spaces, but this isn't strictly accurate. Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder which manifests itself as a fear of particular situations. These can include, but not exclusively, a fear of being in a public space, using public transport, being in crowds (or crowded areas) or even leaving your home.
These inter-linked situations can make those with agoraphobia feeling distressed, anxious and panicked. As a result, they tend to close themselves off and begin to avoid these kinds of situations in the future. As their fear grows, they avoid them more, which eventually becomes all encompassing and they can become isolated. Agoraphobics can become house-bound, or even room-bound, by their condition.
You might think it's easy to avoid those situations, but they can impact your life in many ways, some of which you may not have considered. Agoraphobics may find it difficult, for example, to attend appointments with their doctor or travel to the shops for groceries. Not so easy now huh!
Agoraphobia is caused by the fear that, in particular situations, there is no way escape. This can manifest itself as the fear of :
- Being alone in particular situations.
- Being in places which are harder to leave, e.g. lifts, trains, etc.
- Losing control in public places.
- Leaving your home or only being able to leave it if someone accompanies you.
- Being in crowded places.
These symptoms can induce signs similar to a panic attack which include:
- Increase heart rate.
- Laboured breathing.
- Dizziness or light-headedness.
- Upset stomach.
Agoraphobia is a condition that tends to develop over time, rather than something that just occurs overnight. Whilst there's not one concrete cause, having panic disorder or other phobias can play a part in the development of agoraphobia.
Experiencing stressful life events, like abuse, the death of a parent (or other close relative) or violent assault can also contribute to agoraphobia. If you tend to be more nervous or anxious than most, then this can increase the risk of developing it.
Most people who suffer with agoraphobia are diagnosed before they turn 35 years of age, although it's not impossible that it can develop in those older than that.
More women are diagnosed with agoraphobia than men, but this may be due to the fact that more women tend to seek help for their mental illness than blokes! Typical!
If you suffer with Agoraphobia, there may be some organisations on our Where To Turn pages that can help you. If not, and you know of one, please let us know and we'll look into it.
Also, if you'd like to share your experiences of living with agoraphobia with our community so they can better understand how it feels, please take a look at our 'Men Tell' section.