Agoraphobia is the most common form of anxiety disorder.  Agoraphobia is defined as “fear of open spaces”,  however, it also can express itself as  a fear of panic attacks. Agoraphobics fear the anticipation of situations that they can’t escape. These situations exacerbate feelings of lack of control and powerlessness.

Situations that can trigger agoraphobia include:

  • crowded places such as grocery stores and shopping malls;
  • confined spaces such as elevators and tunnels;
  • fear of being away from home or a “safe person”;

Agoraphobia can affect all kinds of people.  It does not discriminate between professionals and blue collar workers or males or females.  It is caused by a combination of heredity and environment issues.  Heredity plays a large part; most agoraphobics have a close relative with the condition. Environmental issues include having parents who have been overcritical, overprotective and/or anxious.

Agoraphobia can be successfully treated with a high percentage of positive outcomes. Therapies can include assertiveness training, graded exposure, relaxation and/or medication.

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