What are the symptoms?
The person feels especially vulnerable and exposed.
The phobias or fears in agoraphobia involve activities such as leaving home, entering public places or travelling alone. In these situations the person feels especially vulnerable and exposed, with nowhere to escape to or hide if things go wrong.
An unusual but not uncommon feature of agoraphobia is a fear of crossing bridges (known as gephyrophobia). This has nothing to do with huge drops from the side of a bridge, but is related to a feeling that, once on the bridge, there is no immediately available exit.
The degree of fear and avoidance behaviour varies. Although many sufferers do manage to get out to work, some become completely housebound.
Agoraphobia affects men and women and begins in early adulthood. They may have other psychological problems too, especially:
Panic attacks - these can cause physical symptoms including shaking, sweating, palpitations, headache, nausea, chest pain, tingling or spasm of the hands
Social phobia - excessive fear that a performance or social interaction will be inadequate, embarrassing or humiliating.
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