Agoraphobia statistics show that women, adolescents, young adults and the elderly are at higher risk of experiencing agoraphobia.

Agoraphobia affects many aspects of daily life. It can impair an individual’s ability to perform at work, maintain a household, have a social life and engage in intimate relationships. Agoraphobia statistics reveal the prevalence of this condition, who it impacts and what treatment methods can be used to alleviate symptoms.

Prevalence of Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia prevalence varies in different populations, but overall, rates are low. Individuals that have anxiety, a relative with agoraphobia, experienced trauma or lost a loved one have a higher risk of agoraphobia. Women are more likely to have agoraphobia than men, and rates of agoraphobia are highest in adolescents and the elderly.

Agoraphobia in Men vs. Women

Rates of anxiety disorders tend to be higher in women, and agoraphobia is no exception. The research on women and agoraphobia has found that the female-to-male ratio of agoraphobia prevalence ranges from 1.6–3.1. Thus, women are between one and one-half times and three times more likely to have agoraphobia than men. It is thought that the differences between men and women’s agoraphobia rates are the result of sex hormones and the fact that females are more likely to be the victim of physical, mental and child abuse. Women also tend to have more severe symptoms and experience more impairment from agoraphobia than men. On agoraphobia and men, research has found that there is a higher rate of alcoholism in men with the condition than women.

Agoraphobia in Adults

Though women are more likely to experience it, agoraphobia in adults is relatively rare. Only 1.3% of adults ever experience agoraphobia. The rates of agoraphobia are different for young and mature adults.

In young adults, going to college or having an occupation seems to lower the risk of agoraphobia. College-aged individuals who were “neither employed nor students nor trainees” were twice as likely to have agoraphobia than their peers. Unlike what is observed in middle-aged adults, agoraphobia in young adults tends not to be associated with a panic disorder.

Recently, it has been proposed that the prevalence of agoraphobia in older adults, those age 65 and older, tends to be underreported. In mature adults, symptoms of agoraphobia, such as the tendency to remain at home, can be mistakenly attributed to poor health and the lack of a social network. The rate of agoraphobia may be as high as 10.4% in individuals over 65. Interestingly, agoraphobia and trauma are not linked in this population. The major risk factors for developing late-onset agoraphobia include severe anxiety and major depression.

Agoraphobia in Children and Adolescents

Agoraphobia in children is uncommon, but it can occur. Tantrums, clinging, crying and freezing up in situations that can trigger their fear are characteristic of agoraphobia in children.

Compared to children and adults, agoraphobia in teens is relatively common and tends to be more severe. The rate of agoraphobia in adolescents aged 13–18 has been estimated to be 2.4%. Like adults, the prevalence of agoraphobia in adolescents is twice as high in females than males.

In adolescents, the physical manifestations of excessive anxiety and agoraphobia are unique to each individual and may include:

  • Muscle tension and cramps
  • Headaches
  • Stomachaches
  • Pain in the limbs and back
  • Discomforts associated with puberty
  • Fatigue
  • Facial blotching and flushing
  • Hyperventilating
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Startling easily

Agoraphobia in adolescents tends to be more severe than in other populations.

Agoraphobia and Co-Occurring Disorders

Agoraphobia often co-occurs with other disorders. For example, anxiety and agoraphobia usually occur together, as anxiety is a risk factor for developing agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is also often confused with social anxiety disorder. However,  agoraphobia and social anxiety differ in that social anxiety, is the fear of being judged in specific situations while agoraphobia is the fear of experiencing anxiety in a situation. Agoraphobia and social anxiety each result in an individual avoiding situations and can occur in the same individual. Panic disorders and agoraphobia can also occur together as a person with a panic disorder is twenty times more likely to also have agoraphobia. 

Agoraphobia is also strongly associated with higher rates of substance use, as individuals turn to substances to manage their anxiety symptoms. The relationship between agoraphobia and alcohol abuse is unique. Alcohol can decrease feelings of anxiety. Thus, alcohol is often abused by individuals with agoraphobia to manage anxiety symptoms. On the other hand, alcohol abuse alters brain chemistry, promotes panic and can increase anxiety over time. The result is that alcohol abuse worsens agoraphobia symptoms, even as agoraphobia results in a stronger dependency on alcohol.

Agoraphobia Treatment and Prognosis

When agoraphobia occurs alongside substance abuse, both must be addressed together to decrease the chance of relapse. Treating substance abuse without addressing the underlying anxiety leaves the individual open to seeking other ways to manage stress.

Agoraphobia treatment involves both psychotherapy and medication. Anxiety disorders are especially amenable to treatment with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on addressing how a person’s thoughts and beliefs affect their behavior and mood. It attempts to change thinking patterns associated with anxiety-provoking situations. Medications for agoraphobia can treat the symptoms of agoraphobia, but not the underlying condition. For this reason, medications work best in conjunction with psychotherapy. Though antidepressants appear to be more effective, both antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are prescribed for agoraphobia. With treatment, an agoraphobia prognosis is best.

The Recovery Village has treatment centers that can provide help for those suffering from co-occurring agoraphobia and substance use disorder. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or alcohol misuse co-occurring with agoraphobia, call today to learn about the options for treatment.

Megan Hull
Editor – Megan Hull
Megan Hull is a content specialist who edits, writes and ideates content to help people find recovery. Read more
Aleishia Harris-Arnold
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Aleishia Harris-Arnold, PhD
Aleishia Harris-Arnold earned her PhD in Immunology in 2014 from Stanford University School of Medicine. Read more
Sources

Kessler, RC. “Prevalence, Severity, and Comorbidity of Twelve-month DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R).” Archives of General Psychiatry, March 30, 2010. Accessed April 28, 2019.

Cleveland Clinic. “Agoraphobia Symptoms & Treatments.” May 8, 2015. Accessed April 28, 2019.

Borwin Bandelow, SM. “Epidemiology of anxiety disorders in the 21st century.” Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, September 17, 2015. Accessed April 28, 2019.

Psych Central. “Anxiety More Common in Women.” October 6, 2006. Accessed April 28, 2019.

Turgeon, Lyse. “Clinical Features in Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia: A Comparison of Men and Women.” Journal of Anxiety Disorders, December 18, 1998. Accessed April 28, 2019.

Reuters. “Panic with agoraphobia linked to alcohol abuse.” July 31, 2007. Accessed April 28, 2019.

Yonkers, Kimberly. “Is the Course of Panic Disorder the Same in Women and Men?” American Journal of Psychiatry, May 1998. Accessed April 29, 2019.

National Institute of Mental Health. “Agoraphobia.” November 2017. Accessed April 29, 2019.

Kovess-Masfety, V. “Mental health of college students and their non-college-attending peers: results from a large French cross-sectional survey.” BMC Psychology, April 21, 2016. Accessed April 29, 2019.

Wittchen, H-U. “The Relationship of Agoraphobia and Panic in a Community Sample of Adolescents and Young Adults.” Archives of General Psychiatry, November 1998. Accessed April 29, 2019.

Ritchie, K. “Late-onset agoraphobia: general population incidence and evidence for a clinical subtype.” American Journal of Psychiatry, July 2013. Accessed April 29, 2019.

Merck Manual. “Agoraphobia in Children and Adolescents.” February 2017. Accessed April 29, 2019.

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. “Your Adolescent – Anxiety and Avoidant Disorders.” Accessed April 29, 2019.

Dennis, ML. “Development and Validation of the GAIN Short Screener (GSS) for Internalizing, Externalizing and Substance Use Disorders and Crime/Violence Problems Among Adolescents and Adults.” The American Journal on Addictions, February 18, 2010. Accessed April 29, 2019.

Arrindell, WA. “The fear of fear concept: evidence in favour of multidimensionality.” Behavior Research and Therapy, September 1993. Accessed May 2, 2019.

Wu, Li-Tzy. “Use of Substance Abuse Treatment Services by Persons With Mental Health and Substance Use Problems.” Psychiatric Services, March 1, 2013. Accessed April 29, 2019.

Smith, Joshua. “Anxiety and Substance Use Disorders: A Review.” The Psychiatric Times, July 16, 2010. Accessed April 29, 2019.

Cosci, F. “Alcohol Use Disorders and Panic Disorder: A Review of the Evidence of a Direct Relationship.” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2007. Accessed April 29, 2019.

NIH News in Health. “Understanding Anxiety Disorders.” May 2, 2017. Accessed April 29, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.