The causes of agoraphobia are currently unidentified. It is linked however to the presence of other anxiety disorders, a stressful environment or substance abuse. More women than men are affected. constant use of tranquilizers and sleeping pills such as benzodiazepines has been linked to causing agoraphobia. When benzodiazepine dependence has been treated and after a period of abstinence, agoraphobia symptoms gradually abate.
Agoraphobia can be successfully treated in many cases through a very slow process of graduated exposure therapy combined with cognitive therapy and sometimes anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications. Treatment options for agoraphobia and panic disorder are similar.
Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder, often precipitated by the fear of having a panic attack in a setting from which there is no easy means of escape. As a result, sufferers of agoraphobia may avoid public and/or unfamiliar places, especially large, open, spaces such as shopping malls or airports where there are little 'places to hide'. In severe cases, the sufferer may become confined to his or her home, experiencing difficulty traveling from this "safe place."