A diagnosis is made via a medical professional’s evaluation based on specific criteria.
Medical professionals diagnose agoraphobia when the fear, anxiety, or avoidance lasts six (6) months or more and involves at least two of the following situations:
- Using public transportation;
- Being in a open space, such as a parking lot or marketplace;
- Being in an enclosed space, such as a shop or theatre;
- Standing in line or being in a crowd; and/or
- Being alone outside the home.
The fears must involve concerns that escape might be difficult or that help will be unavailable if individuals panic or become incapacitated.
In addition, all of the following must be present:
- Symptoms are almost always triggered by the same situations;
- Individuals change their behaviour to avoid the situation or need a companion to help them tolerate it;
- Symptoms are out of proportion to the actual danger;
- Symptoms cause significant distress or significantly impair functioning; and
- Symptoms are not caused by another mental disorder such as social phobia, or a general medical condition such as inflammatory bowel disease.