Agoraphobia and Panic Attacks

Agoraphobia is a condition which sees the sufferer have an extreme fear of public places or places which they don’t know well. This can lead, in some cases, to the person avoiding the likes of busy shopping districts, airports and train stations or anywhere they aren’t familiar with.

While agoraphobia traditionally stood alone as a social anxiety issue, current thinking has it strongly linked to panic attacks.

Most experts in the field now believe that it is the fear of having a panic attack in a place which offers the sufferer no easy way of getting away that causes them to avoid such places. In some cases the person affected can find it highly difficult to leave their home at all and can end up living in a series of ever decreasing circles which eventually leads to them being virtually confined to their home by the fear of suffering a panic attack out of doors.

It can also be triggered by the mere thought of returning to the place where a previous panic attack or other traumatic event occurred in the past.

It is believed that in the USA alone over 3 million adults suffer from this phobia, which works out at around 2% of the population. It is most commonly noted in the female population and generally occurs for the first time, or develops into a more serious problem in cases where it was already present, between the ages of 20 and 40.

Two thirds of agoraphobia sufferers are female and it account for around 60% of all cases of phobias. There is a theory that there are simply more women who seek help for the condition, rather than it being the case they are more vulnerable to it than men.

Agoraphobia is a serious condition and the sufferer needs help and support from their family, although in many cases the people close to them are too quick to dismiss it as a simple fear or phobia rather than as a complex psychological issue.