Yes, agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5).
Many people wonder how agoraphobia is different from other anxiety disorders. Agoraphobia involves a fear of general environments that could be difficult to exit if they experience a panic attack. The environments outlined in the DSM-5 regarding what agoraphobics may fear include:
- Open spaces
- Enclosed areas
- Crowded places
- Public transportation
- Being alone outside of the house
The fear of being in these situations involves an unnatural amount of anxiety or stress, which is why agoraphobia is classified as an anxiety disorder.
Agoraphobia and Panic Disorder
Many people compare agoraphobia to panic disorder, which is another type of anxiety disorder. While the two are similar, they are not interchangeable. Agoraphobia involves a fear of being trapped in a setting where a panic attack could happen. Panic disorder involves frequent and unexpected panic attacks.
he two disorders frequently co-occur as many people who have panic disorders will also have agoraphobia. However, someone could have agoraphobia but not have the frequency of panic attacks needed to have a panic disorder.
Agoraphobia is also frequently defined as a fear of being in public places. While many with agoraphobia do avoid specific environments that involve crowds, people can have the disorder and not fear public places. Agoraphobia primarily consists of a fear that when a panic attack occurs, leaving an area will be either difficult or impossible.