Agoraphobia, usually self-diagnosable, is a type of anxiety disorder that provokes intense fear – a fear so unbearable it nearly forces the individual to avoid places or situations that might cause panic attacks and feelings of panic, entrapment, helplessness, or embarrassment. This disorder pressures a person to anticipate certain situations that take place in public, such as using public transportation, eating at a restaurant, or standing in line at a grocery market. The anxiety is caused by fear that there is no easy way to escape or get help if the anxiety intensifies. People with agoraphobia often find it difficult to feel safe in any public place. They feel it is necessary to bring a companion, preferably a close friend or family member, with them at all times when they leave their home. Sometimes the fear can be extremely overwhelming that they may feel unable to even leave their home (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2017).
The exact cause of agoraphobia is not known. One hypothesis is that agoraphobia develops in response to repeated exposure to anxiety-provoking events. Most experts think a combination of biological and psychological factors may be involved. Anyone of any age, race, gender or status can inherit or slowly build into agoraphobia but studies show that girls and women, Native Americans, middle-aged individuals, low-income populations, and individuals who are either widowed, separated, or divorced are at increased risk of developing agoraphobia. There are several factors that are known to increase the risk of developing this unwanted condition, too. Some factors that coincide with this disorder are depression, a history of physical or sexual abuse, a substance abuse problem, a family history of agoraphobia, and other phobias and disorders such as claustrophobia, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, all which can impact a persons’ day-to-day functioning profoundly. Depending on how severe a persons’ symptoms are,...