Agoraphobia, literally fear of the market place, is characterised by multiple phobic symptoms and a generalised high level of anxiety. It is not simply, as is commonly believed, a fear of open spaces - though this does occur.
It is distinguished from a generalised anxiety disorder - GAD - by the predominance of phobic symptoms over those of "free-floating" anxiety.
In clinical practice agoraphobia is more common than all the other phobias put together.
Treatment is very difficult, but the condition can respond to desensitisation by systemically introducing the patient to the feared situation.
Last reviewed 01/2018