People with agoraphobia may experience some or all of the
following symptoms when in public places:
- rapid heart beat,
- intense sweating,
- chest pain,
- difficulty breathing,
- feelings of choking,
- feelings of losing control,
- fear of fainting, and
- fear of dying.
It is rare for a person to have all of these symptoms at once.
However, if someone experiences several of these symptoms together
this suggests it is a panic attack.
In extreme cases, the symptoms can make the person flee from
where they are to a place where they feel safe. This can make them
avoid the situation that brought on the symptoms in the future.
Although some people with agoraphobia will feel marked anxiety
or distress on leaving home or being in public places the symptoms
do not develop into a panic attack.
Some agoraphobics may experience little anxiety because they can
avoid the situations that cause their phobia. Agoraphobia is also
linked to some other conditions like depression and obsessive
The root cause of agoraphobia is not known. Research
studies have found that agoraphobia tends to run in families, but
it is not clear if this is because of a genetic link or for some
A diagnosis is usually made by a healthcare professional based
on a description of the symptoms. However, the following need to be
- The symptoms must be due to anxiety and should not be secondary
to other symptoms, such as delusions or obsessions;
- The anxiety should occur mainly in at least two of the
following situations: crowds, public places, travelling away from
home, and travelling alone; and
- Avoiding the situation where anxiety occurs must be, or have
been, a prominent feature.
The information shown here is Crown copyright and has been
reproduced with the permission of NHS Direct. Last updated June