Agoraphobia is characterized by fear and avoidance of many types of situations that include crowds, wide-open spaces, or situations in which people feel exposed, vulnerable or trapped, such as shopping malls, grocery stores, theatres, sporting events, open spaces, line-ups, airports and bridges.
People with agoraphobia may develop severe avoidance and become unable to leave their safe place (home) or the company of safe people. Although agoraphobia is classified as a separate disorder, it most often develops in the context of panic disorder as people learn to fear that they will have a panic attack in specific situations. Panic disorder is characterized by the repeated experience of sudden and very intense feelings of fear, often experienced as terror. These panic attacks often seem to strike without warning or “out of the blue.”