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Definition of Fear of public places

Fear of public places: This irrational fear is called agoraphobia. It applies to open areas, especially those from which escape could be difficult or help not immediately accessible. Persons with agoraphobia frequently also have panic disorder.

People with agoraphobia characteristically become anxious if they even think about being trapped in a situation where it might be difficult to leave the situation. People with agoraphobia also characteristically avoid the situations which bring them anxiety or panic.

Agoraphobia is highly variable in severity. People with mild agoraphobia often live normal lives by avoiding anxiety-provoking situations. But, in the most severe cases, the victims may be incapacitated and be homebound.

The disorder affects women twice as often as men, tends to start in the mid to late 20's and the onset may appear triggered by a traumatic event.

The treatment for agoraphobia involves behavioral and cognitive therapy and/or medications. As might be expected, people with a mild case of agoraphobia do best while those with a severe case may be plagued for many years, if not the remainder of their lives.

Agoraphobia comes from the Greek "agora", marketplace + "phobos", fear = fear of the marketplace.

Source: MedTerms™ Medical Dictionary
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=9963
Last Editorial Review: 9/20/2012

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