Agoraphobia is described as fear of open spaces. It is a psychiatric anxiety disorder that belongs to a group of phobias.


Understanding agoraphobia is still not entirely clear. The patient usually does have a fear of open spaces but he rather suffers from fear of foreign places outside his home. Fear is not instantiated and it is not clear what exactly is the problem - sometimes it is fear of fainting, fear that “something bad happens”, that others will laugh etc. Agoraphobia is sometimes strong enough, to imprison the patient in his home or in a particular room. Attempts to leave this closed apartment can be connected with acute panic attacks. Very risky places for triggering such panic attack are crowded locations like restaurants, cinemas and transport facilities.


Treatment is psychiatric, should be long-term and usually involves psychotherapy which helps the patient to understand his fear and overcome it. Part of the treatment can be very slow and careful exposure to trigger situations (only with patient's permission!). As a pharmacological complement we use some drugs like antidepressant and anxiolytic agents.

Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Sources: basic text sources