“Obsessive, persistent, intense fear of open places”

What is Agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia involves intense fear or anxiety in the agoraphobic situation, such as in public transportation, open/closed places, or crowded areas, especially being alone. The individuals continuously tend to fear or avoid these situations in order to escape panic-like symptoms.

What causes Agoraphobia?

The precise cause of agoraphobia remains unknown. However, brain areas that control the fear response may play a role and can be from genetic heredity in other anxiety/panic disorders.

Which symptoms occur in Agoraphobia?

Fear, anxiety, avoidance are primary symptoms. The symptoms of embarrassing thoughts to escape can cause distress or impairment in ordinary life. The people with agoraphobia may feel hopeless or loss of control. They may experience physical symptoms, such as chest pain/discomfort, dizziness, racing heart, sweating, trembling, and flushing/chills.

Agoraphobia can often occur with other mental health diagnoses

Panic disorder, major depressive disorder, and social phobia. In order to escape fear, the individuals are vulnerable to alcohol abuse as self-medication. Evidence based treatments include a combination of medication (e.g., SSRIs) and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). Cognitive Therapy helps individuals to change their thoughts and learn how to cope with the symptoms. Locally in Cranberry Township, Pittsburgh, and Western Pennsylvania the Cognitive Behaviors Institute can provide the psychological support and identify resources needed in dealing with all aspects of Agoraphobia. For more information contact us at the Cognitive Behavior Institute or call 724-609-5002.

SuOk Lim
Graduate Student
University of Pittsburgh
School of Social Work