The stereotype most of us have of agoraphobia is someone who is afraid of stepping outside the home. In its most severe form, disorder can become this limiting. But for most people it starts with anxiety triggered by a specific situation.
Some people develop a fear wide open spaces, while others fear enclosed ones. The situations that most commonly cause fear are:
- Public transportation (like buses, trains and planes)
- Open spaces (like bridges and parking lots)
- Enclosed places (like shops, movie theaters and elevators)
- In line or in a crowd
- Outside of home alone
What inspires dread in these situations is the potential for something upsetting to happen. Jamie Howard, PhD, a child psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, explains, “People with agoraphobia worry that something bad will happen and then they’ll be out in the world, unsafe, unable to escape, and there will be no one who can help them.”