Monday 18 September 2023



We all have fears. Heights, spiders, snakes and creepy crawlies. Some people have a fear of flying. For some people, like me, they have a fear of going outside. 

Agoraphobia is something I have experienced before but not as severe as I do now.  I have anxiety about being too far from my house. Even though I have been away on holidays before, hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles away, and everything has been fine, I have this horrible feeling something bad is going to happen, so I avoid going too far.

What is Agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia is a fear of situations where escape might be difficult or that help wouldn't be available if things go wrong.

Some people are afraid of leaving home, travelling on public transport or even visiting the supermarket or shopping centre. It is a complex condition and those living with it may have a fear of one or all of the mentioned situations.

What Symptoms present with Agoraphobia?

The most common symptoms are those caused by a panic attack - rapid heartbeat, feeling sick, hyperventilating, feeling shaky and feeling hot and sweaty. There may be other symptoms that present themselves but this is different in each person.

What behaviours might they exhibit?

Avoiding situations mentioned above.
Ordering shopping online.
May only venture so far with a family member or friend

Again, this is different in each person.

What causes Agoraphobia?

It is typically a complication from an existing panic disorder.  An example would be, if someone had a panic or anxiety attack in the supermarket, they will avoid that situation in fear that it may happen again.

Sometimes it is caused by trauma, such as being a victim of a crime. Fear of terrorism and most recently the covid pandemic,  The pandemic has seen a massive rise in people presenting with anxiety and depression. 

 How is it diagnosed?

Your GP can discuss your symptoms with you.  You may be able to attend your local surgery or a telephone appointment can be offered if you cannot leave your house. The doctor will discuss all your symptoms and ask you questions based on your response.

How is it treated?

Self-help techniques such as breathing exercises, staying in the situation or refocusing your attention.

Lifestyle changes such as meditation and yoga.  

Medication is also an option.

Counselling such as CBT

If you or someone you love is struggling with their mental health, please contact the doctor as soon as possible.  You can also find help and support from various mental health organisations such as SAMH and Mind.

For more information on Agoraphobia click here


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