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Agoraphobia: Diagnosis

Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It causes you to avoid places and situations that might cause you to feel:

  • trapped
  • helpless
  • panicked
  • embarrassed
  • scared

Talk to your GP if you think you have agoraphobia.

If you can't visit your GP in person, it should be possible to arrange a telephone call.

Symptoms

Your GP will ask you about your symptoms, how often they occur, and in what situations.

They'll also want to know how your symptoms are affecting your daily behaviour. For example, they may ask:

  • Do you find it stressful to leave the house?
  • Do you have to avoid certain places or situations?
  • Are you using any avoidance strategies to help cope with your symptoms? For example, relying on others to shop for you.

It can be difficult to talk to someone else about your feelings, emotions and personal life. Try not to feel anxious or embarrassed. Your GP needs to know as much as possible about your symptoms. This will help them to make the correct diagnosis. They can then recommend the most appropriate treatment.

Physical examination

Your GP may want to do a physical examination. In some cases, they may decide to carry out blood tests. This is to look for signs of any physical conditions that could be causing your symptoms.

An overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) can cause symptoms similar to a panic attack.

Your GP will need to rule out any underlying medical conditions to be able to make the correct diagnosis.

Diagnosis

For a diagnosis, you must feel intense fear or anxiety in two or more of the following situations:

  • being somewhere where escape or help may be difficult - open space, enclosed space, being away from home
  • you avoid the situations described above or endure them with extreme anxiety or the help of a companion
  • there's no other underlying condition that may explain your symptoms

If there's any doubt about the diagnosis, you may need an assessment by a psychiatrist.

Page last reviewed: 23/09/2018
Next review due: 23/09/2021

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