What are the Most Common Agoraphobia Causes?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2018
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Agoraphobia, an anxiety based illness that results in a fear of being in public or in any situation where panic might occur, has numerous suggested causes. No clear winner exists for the most common cause and mental health professionals disagree on this matter. It can be stated there are numerous theories on agoraphobia causes, and these must suffice as possible explanations. It’s possible that several theories are true simultaneously, and the condition arises from many factors.

A few things are clear about agoraphobia causes. This is an anxiety disorder specific to the fear of becoming vulnerable in public or inescapable places like vehicles. When people suffer this condition severely, they may live as shut-ins, unable to leave their homes because of significant fear and panic. There appears to be a link between neurotransmitter levels and expression of the disease, and people might find relief from symptoms with drugs like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This does not typically provide complete relief of the condition, so a combination of therapy and drugs is preferred.

Some research indicates one of the agoraphobia causes may be certain minor chromosomal irregularities. Additionally, women seem by far more vulnerable to the illness than do men. It’s hard to know whether gender relationship has genetic weight or whether it is psychosocial in nature.


A number of the other potential agoraphobia causes do deal with psychosocial aspects or upbringing. For example, it’s been posited that encouraging girls to be more dependent on the family home may make them feel less confident about being in the world. Sometimes a child has grown up with an agoraphobic parent, and the behavior might be imitated rather than innate.

A leading theory of agoraphobia causes is that the illness is set off by some kind of event, often early in life where a child was abandoned or lost in public, separated from parents, lost a loved caregiver, or in some way experienced something highly traumatic related to not being at home at the time it occurred or being in public when it occurred. These early feelings can build into total fear of leaving the home, a sense of responsibility for not being home to prevent something dire, or a strong fear of any interaction in a public way. While these fears may be irrational, as is always the case with phobias, the earlier they occurred in childhood, the more likely they may take a strong hold on the child and subsequently the adult.

Additional theories on agoraphobia causes include that some children, especially those who are socially shy, are more likely to become agoraphobic as adults. Some people link the condition to having respiratory illnesses like asthma because this can cause sudden episodes of being unable to breathe. Ultimately, it may be hard to tell the cause, but the illness is one that can fortunately respond to treatment, releasing people from the prison of their fears and their homes.



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