Agoraphobia is a form of anxiety disorder. It generally causes sufferers to experience severe worry and fear in situations or circumstances where it would be difficult or embarrassing to escape.
Many people mistakenly believe that agoraphobia is a fear of open spaces, and although agoraphobics can go on to develop a fear of open spaces, this is not strictly what agoraphobia is.
Agoraphobia is a fear of being caught in situations where escape is desired but cannot be achieved. Because of this, many people with agoraphobia stop doing anything in their lives where this desire to escape occurs.
The result, for many sufferers, is to stick to a small comfort zone where safety is guaranteed. This is how agoraphobics become housebound, and it is also the reason that many people believe that agoraphobia is simply a fear of leaving the house.
This is wrong. It’s better to see the fear of leaving the house as a symptom of agoraphobia, and not as agoraphobia itself.
What Is Agoraphobia: Symptoms
The symptoms of agoraphobia will be different for all sufferers. Some people may experience all of the potential symptoms, while others may experience just one or two.
And some people will experience symptoms that are unique to them.
There are, however, several common agoraphobia symptoms, and if you have agoraphobia you will almost certainly experience several of these symptoms at some point.
Common agoraphobia symptoms fall into 3 categories: fears, physical, and behavioral.
fear of having a panic attack
fear that a panic attack will cause you harm
fear of being unable to escape during a panic attack
fear of losing your mind or going insane
fear of losing control in public
fear of being stared at or examined in public
palpitations (a rapid or unsteady heartbeat)
hyperventilation (rapid or uncontrolled breathing)
feeling hot for no reason
nausea or an upset stomach
pain or discomfort in the chest
diarrhea (or irregular bowel movements)
tinnitus (ringing and other noises in the ears)
dizziness or feeling faint
mood swings (bouts of depression)
becoming housebound (or sticking to an ever smaller “safety zone”)
being unable to go places on your own
avoidance of situations that may cause you anxiety.