- An abnormal and persistent fear of public places or open areas, especially those from which escape could be difficult or help not immediately accessible. Persons with agoraphobia frequently also have panic disorder. People with agoraphobia characteristically become anxious if they even think about being trapped in a situation where it might be difficult to leave the situation. People with agoraphobia also characteristically avoid the situations which bring them anxiety or panic. Agoraphobia is highly variable in severity. People with mild agoraphobia often live normal lives by avoiding anxiety-provoking situations. But, in the most severe cases, the victims may be incapacitated and be homebound. The disorder affects women twice as often as men, tends to start in the mid to late 20’s and the onset may appear triggered by a traumatic event. The treatment for agoraphobia involves behavior and cognitive therapy and/or medications. As might be expected, people with a mild case of agoraphobia do best while those with a severe case may be plagued for many years, if not the remainder of their lives. Agoraphobia comes from the Greek "agora", marketplace + "phobos", fear = fear of the marketplace.
* * *A mental disorder characterized by an irrational fear of leaving the familiar setting of home, or venturing into the open, so pervasive that a large number of external life situations are entered into reluctantly or are avoided; often associated with panic attacks. [G. agora, marketplace, + phobos, fear]
* * *ag·o·ra·pho·bia .ag(-ə)-rə-'fō-bē-ə n abnormal fear of being helpless in a situation from which escape may be difficult or embarrassing that is characterized initially often by panic or anticipatory anxiety and finally by avoidance of open or public places
* * *n.
* * *ag·o·ra·pho·bia (ag″ə-rə-foґbe-ə) [Gr. agora marketplace + -phobia] [DSM-IV] intense, irrational fear of open spaces, characterized by marked fear of venturing out alone or of being in public places where escape would be difficult or help might be unavailable. It may be associated with panic attacks (see panic disorder, under disorder) or may occur independently (called a. without history of panic disorder in DSM-IV).
Medical dictionary. 2011.