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Types of PhobiasAgoraphobia

Mia loved to shop, and she and her friends used to go to the mall practically every weekend. Lately, though, she'd been avoiding the mall. It sounded weird, but the mall made her freak out. Her heart would race, her palms would get sweaty, and she'd start to panic, thinking that she was trapped. What if she fainted or got sick, she thought. How would she get away?

Mia had started to order her clothing from cat alogs so that she wouldn't have to go to stores. She missed shopping with her friends, and she knew they thought she was blowing them off. But she couldn't help it; she was afraid.

Agoraphobia is the fear of open, public places and situations. People with agoraphobia are afraid of places such as shopping malls, stadiums, concert halls, and movie theaters. They also don't usually like to use public transportation, such as trains, buses, or airplanes. People fear that they may have a panic attack or start to feel trapped and anxious. If so, escape from these public situations might be difficult or embarrassing, and they would not be able to get away if they needed to do so.

As the phobia worsens, a person will avoid social situations more and more. Eventually, the fear may become so paralyzing that she is afraid to leave her home. Others don't often understand this fear and may not realize that their loved one needs help. The actress Kim Basinger suffered from agoraphobia so severe that she refused to leave her home. She has recovered and is now speaking out about agoraphobia in the hopes that people will begin to understand it.

Agoraphobia often strikes a person in his or her late teens or early twenties. As with specific phobias, agoraphobia more often affects girls and women. Of all the phobias, agoraphobia is perhaps the most difficult to handle because it often affects every aspect of someone's existence. Agoraphobia, like specific phobias and social phobias, can slowly take over a person's life.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaPhobiasPhobias - Types of Phobias - Specific Phobias, Social Phobias, Not The Same As Shyness, Agoraphobia