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Is the Problem Agoraphobia? A Simple Definition & Checklist

written by: Kathy Foust • edited by: DaniellaNicole • updated: 7/23/2010

Agoraphobia is an easily misunderstood disorder that can actually be prevented if caught in time. Here we discuss what is Agoraphobia? Providing a simple checklist to see if there is a case of agoraphobia in your future.

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    What is Agoraphobia?

    Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that is often and easily misunderstood due to the nature of the disorder. At the peak of the symptoms, this disorder will cause the individual to be afraid to step outside their own front door. Not only that, but they may be inclined to refuse entrance to anyone or anything into their home.

    There are several disorders that may in fact lead up to this one. In this way, agoraphobia can be compared to disorders such as alcoholism, where the disorder is not actually the problem. but everything that leads up to it is. Some of the disorders that are found to accompany and even precede this disorder are listed below.

    • panic attacks
    • obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
    • social anxiety
    • eating disorder

    You'll notice that the basis for these disorders stem from control or a lack thereof. Some of them may have even made you tilt your head and question how they could relate to agoraphobia. Let's take the eating disorder for example. An eating disorder is any disorder that involves abnormal eating habits and focus on food. The person may be trying to control their weight or may simply have found one thing that they actually have control of in a world where they have none anywhere else. This disorder can soon lead to others such as OCD as the person feels more and more relief from obtaining some control. In this way these disorders can lead up to agoraphobia.

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    Signs of Agoraphobia

    Once you understand what is agoraphobia? It becomes easier to appreciate and spot the signs. If some or all of the above listed disorders are present then it may be cause for concern that the individual has presently or is working up to a case of agoraphobia. Some of the signs of agoraphobia are listed below.

    • Refusal to leave the home.
    • Refusal to admit others into the home.
    • Refusal to communicate with others.
    • Fear of being in a place with multiple people.
    • Fear of being in a building with only one exit.
    • Fear of physical contact with others.
    • Refusal to leave their "safe zone". Please note that this may start with the safe zone being a town and lead up to it being their home.
    • Obsessive traits such as cleaning or arranging.

    This is a very serious condition that can be hard to treat due to the individual's refusal to leave the home or communicate with people outside their home. For this reason, it is best to attempt to treat the underlying issues before they lead to this disorder.

    References: The Encyclopedia of Mental Health 1993 p.21