ABC Medical Center > Agoraphobia

What is Agoraphobia?

21:53 - 4 May , 2021


The word agoraphobia comes from the Greek ágora (public square) and fobia (fear), which is why it is popularly known as fear of open spaces, although this definition is imprecise, since this anxiety disorder also occurs when facing any type of environment in which the person feels insecure, anxious, or simply feels trapped either in public or private places, with many people or alone, among others. 

Agoraphobia usually begins after experiencing panic attacks that become more frequent. 

Although the direct cause is unknown, there are numerous factors that contribute to the onset of this condition whose incidence usually occurs in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood before the age of 35, but sometimes it can also occur in older adults.

The most common potential risks are:  

  • Drug addiction.
  • Ongoing stress or experiencing severe stressful events. 
  • Family history.
  • Depression and anxiety.
  • Having lived through traumatic experiences in childhood.
  • Suffer from other phobias or mental disorders.
  • Evasive response and denial to panic attacks.

Signs and symptoms Agoraphobia

Physical symptoms are:

  • Fast heart rate.
  • Hyperventilation.
  • Dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Chest tightness and shortness of breath.
  • Excessive sweating.
  • Diarrhea.

Cognitive symptoms are:

  • Extreme distress in public areas, despite being accompanied.
  • General anxiety or fear.
  • Difficulty socializing.
  • Fear of not being able to escape from the situation.
  • Fear of going out alone or staying home alone.
  • Panic of losing control in public.
  • Fear that the heart will stop in a panic attack and die.
  • Feeling embarrassed in public places when being pointed out and observed by others.

At behavioral level, symptoms are related to the cognitive ones, and are the following:

  • Avoid crowded places and open spaces.
  • Inability to leave home, in extreme cases.
  • Need to be accompanied to every place.

It is important that if you are experiencing recurring panic attacks or suffer from anxiety, you seek medical advice and treatment as soon as possible before the situation becomes more complicated.

Diagnosis and treatment Agoraphobia

In order to establish a diagnosis, it is often necessary to rule out other conditions that could be present, but the required procedures are usually a physical examination, imaging studies such as tomography and MRI, and a psychological examination. 

Once the diagnosis is established, your doctor will decide on the treatment to follow to control the symptoms and help you have a normal life as possible, which includes antidepressants and anxiolytics, psychological therapies, and relaxation techniques, through the care of a multidisciplinary team that may involve psychologists, neurologists, therapists, social counselors, and support groups.

The approximate duration of treatment ranges from six months to a year depending on the severity of the case. However, everything will depend on your evolution and medical assessment.

At the Neurological Center, a select group of highly professional and certified doctors in the various neurological specialties are ready to assist you with the quality and warmth that characterizes us.

Our mission is to provide you with comprehensive and multidisciplinary care programs for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of nervous system diseases, always focusing our activities on your safety.

Nervous system specialties

  • Neurology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Spine surgery
  • Pediatric neurosurgery
  • Neurophysiology
  • Neuro-rehabilitation
  • Neuro-pathology
  • Interventional neuro-radiology
  • Neuropsychology
  • Neuro-oncology
  • Neuro-otology
  • Epilepsy
  • Neuro-ophthalmology
  • Neuroimaging


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  • cop.es
  • mayocilinic.org 
  • medlineplus.gov
  • msdmanuals.com
  • medigraphic.com
  • Peñate W, Pitti CT, Bethencourt JM, et al. Agoraphobia (with or without panic attack) and non-adaptative coping behaviors. Part one. Salud Mental. 2006;29(2):22-29.
  • Caraveo-Anduaga JJ, Colmenares E. Prevalencia de los trastornos de ansiedad fóbica en la población adulta de la ciudad de México. Salud Mental. 2000;23(5):10-19.
  • Lara MMC, Medina-Mora ME, Borges G, et al. El costo social de los trastornos mentales. Discapacidad y días productivos perdidos. Resultados de la Encuesta Nacional de Epidemiología Psiquiátrica. Salud Mental. 2007;30(5):4-11.
  • Delgado RAC, Sánchez LJV. Miedo, fobias y sus tratamientos. Rev Elec Psic Izt. 2019;22(2):798-833.

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