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Agoraphobia: What It Is and What It Looks Like to Struggle With It

Let's be real, agoraphobia is a disorder that is very misunderstood. Lots of people think that agoraphobia is simply the disorder that prevents you from leaving your house. But the reality is that there are lots of people struggling with agoraphobia who leave their homes all the time! In fact… the percentage of people who are struggling with agoraphobia and are also housebound is far less than those who are struggling with agoraphobia and go outside of their homes. But more importantly, there is so much more to agoraphobia than simply having a hard time doing things outside of your home! And that’s why it’s so important to talk about what agoraphobia is and what it actually looks like. So let’s get into it!

Agoraphobia: What It Is and What It Looks Like to Struggle With It

What is agoraphobia?

What is Agoraphobia?

When people ask me about agoraphobia, this is how I like to explain it to them: it’s a disorder in which you have a hard time going places or doing things because you fear how you might feel when you do. Often people who struggle with agoraphobia worry about experiencing an overwhelming amount of anxiety or panic and being in a place or situation in which they fear they can’t handle it. They worry something awful might happen: either a fear coming true, embarrassing themselves, or just being very uncomfortable.

Lots of people who struggle with agoraphobia have places where they feel safer, and they tend to stick to these places because they experience little to no anxiety there. Sometimes it’s home, being near home, work, or other places they go frequently. This is what is often referred to as a “safe zone”. Being outside of your safe zone is often really anxiety-producing, and oftentimes when you push yourself outside of it, you feel anxious and quickly move back into your safe zone, which can feel like an instant relief.

For some people, struggling with agoraphobia looks like being able to go anywhere or do anything as long as they have their safe person or safe object with them. For others, it might look like being completely housebound. I’ve worked with many people who struggle with agoraphobia and have been housebound, sometimes for years. I’ve also worked with many people who struggle with agoraphobia and travel all over and can even get on an airplane and travel with no issues, but if you ask them to drive a certain distance away from their home alone, or go into a grocery store, it would be incredibly hard. I’ve also worked with many people who don’t really have a safe zone, and everything feels incredibly hard for them because they experience a lot of anxiety and panic in all places and situations.

Agoraphobia might look like…

  • Always worrying about experiencing an overwhelming amount of anxiety or panic

  • Wanting to stay home but also wanting so badly to go out and enjoy doing things

  • Feeling jealous of “normal” people

  • Bailing on plans often and feeling disappointed in yourself, and feeling bad because you feel like you’ve also disappointed others

  • Wanting to share what you’re struggling with but also worrying that people will think you’re crazy

  • Constantly worrying that the symptoms would lead to a panic attack, losing control, or a trip to the hospital

  • Not feeling at peace anywhere because the chaos is often in your head

  • Feeling anxious and panicking and usually tried to hide it

  • Being afraid that you might not be able to financially support yourself and take care of yourself

  • Feeling so angry about missing out on opportunities and just life in general

  • Feeling as though you’re weak, incapable, and dependent on others to do the simplest things

  • Not believing in yourself

What Causes Agoraphobia 

I think it’s really important to highlight that the triggering situations and symptoms that come along with agoraphobia aren’t what causes it. Oftentimes people who are struggling might think that a particular place or situation is the cause because it’s where they experience the most anxious symptoms. Yes, there are triggers, but they aren’t the cause. I always say… it’s not the place, situation, or even sensation that’s leading to the anxiety and panic, so avoiding things and places isn’t going to help any (although it feels like it does in the short term). It’s so important to be aware of what’s actually leading to panic attacks and fears!

Here are a few things that might cause someone to struggle with panic attacks and agoraphobia: 

  • Overwhelming stress (accumulation of stress, life events, big life changes - even happy ones!)

  • A lack of self-care

  • Feeling anxious and resisting and fighting it

  • Not having a healthy response to your thoughts and feelings

  • Continued avoidance of your feelings and avoidance of facing the hard stuff

  • Trauma 

When people come to me because they’re finally fed up and they want to stop managing anxiety and instead create a healthy relationship with it,  I say let’s do it! But the first step is becoming aware of what’s actually causing a lot of the anxiety/panic and being honest with yourself about where the problems lie. It’s tough stuff to become aware and get honest with yourself, but that’s where the healing happens!

I hope this has given you some insight into what agoraphobia is, and has helped you to feel seen and validated. I know it’s such a hard thing to struggle with, but I want you to know and hear me on this… Agoraphobia is something that you can recover from. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to you and your mental health, but you are absolutely capable of living a life of peace and joy!

If you’re ready to create a healthy relationship with anxiety and overcome panic attacks and agoraphobia, check out my 10-week program Panic to Peace. Over the course of ten weeks, I guide you and support in creating a healthy relationship with anxiety. Aka - I teach you how to get the thoughts, the symptoms, panic, and fears to stop popping up and making all of the decisions for you, and I help you to actually start LIVING your life and experiencing lots more peace, joy, and freedom. The doors will be opening again in January 2024. If you're interested in joining, make sure to jump on my waiting list to get early access to the program, as well as a special discount!

Until next time, keep taking healthy action!





Ways to work with me...

Driving Anxiety Masterclass

A two hour masterclass that teaches you how to experience more peace and freedom behind the wheel, whether you struggle as the driver, the passenger, or a bit of both!

Panic to Peace

(10-week live course)

A 10-week live course that will teach you the tools that will help you to overcome your anxious thoughts, the symptoms, panic, and fears (no matter where and in what situations you experience them), and start living a life that is full of lots more peace, joy, freedom, and adventure!

Symptoms & Panic Attacks


A 90 minute masterclass that teaches you how to start approaching the symptoms and panic attacks in a healthy way so that you can finally find freedom from them!

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