Saturday, April 03, 2021


Agoraphobia literally means “fear of the marketplace.” It is a type of anxiety disorder that causes a person to avoid situations that he or she fears, such as being in public or being in crowded spaces.

The term agoraphobia was first coined by Westphal (1871) in his description of three males who experienced intense anxiety when walking across open spaces. Westphal also noted the physiological symptoms of anxiety (i.e., palpitations, blushing, trembling, and sensations of heat) and the intense subjective anxiety that is elicited upon anticipating entering a feared situation.

These situations can include even the most wide-open spaces such as shopping malls, airports, parking lots, public transportation, restaurants, theaters, additional situations involving crowds or waiting in line, travel far from home, and being alone.

Agoraphobia is common with 1-3% of the population suffering from it. It is twice as common in women as it is men.

In the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III; American Psychiatric Association [APA], 1980), agoraphobia was characterized as a “marked fear and avoidance of being alone, or in public places from which escape might be difficult, or help not available in case of sudden incapacitation”.

Agoraphobia was then considered a primary diagnosis, which may or may not be accompanied by recurrent panic attacks.

A variety of factors such as fear of sensations and emotions in anxiety (anxiety sensitivity), family history of anxiety (genetics), and stressful events may contribute to this condition.

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