• Agoraphobia is the fear of being alone in
public places or being in a situation from
which one either cannot escape or from
which escaping would be difficult or
• Agoraphobia ranges from <1%- 7% of the
• There are a number of theories about what can
cause agoraphobia such as:
– A secondary development to panic attacks due to
apprehension about having subsequent attacks in
public places where escape my be difficult
• 50-70% of these patients have a coexisting panic disorder.
– A reaction to internal emotional conflicts.
– Genetic or familial factors of inheritance.
Agoraphobia & Panic Attacks
• It is theorized that a person who suffers
multiple panic attacks in multiple public
settings tends to develop a progressive and
more general fear of public places
• Symptoms of agoraphobia include:
– Subsequent avoidance of being in a situation in
which one will have a panic attack, when in a
situation from which escape is not possible, or is
difficult or embarrassing.
– When associated with panic attacks, symptoms
may involve intense fear, disorientation, rapid
heart beat, dizziness, or diarrhea.
Diagnosis & DSM-IV criteria
• The following criteria must be met for a
diagnosis of agoraphobia:
1. Anxiety about being in places or situations from
which escape might be difficult or in which help
would not be readily available in the event of a
2. The situations are either avoided, endured with
severe distress, or faced only with the presence
of a companion.
3. These symptoms cannot be better explained by
another mental disorder.