Ask the doctor: What is agoraphobia?

Q. My daughter tells me her new roommate is afraid to leave a 10-block area around their apartment in New York City. She has something called agoraphobia. What is that?

A. Agoraphobia is literally the fear of open or public places. The word is derived from agora, the Greek term for "marketplace." People with agoraphobia may suffer symptoms of severe anxiety when they leave home or when they are in crowded places. At home, they anticipate being anxious. As a result, they typically try to avoid situations that trigger anxiety — which may explain why your daughter's roommate is afraid to leave a particular area that is familiar to her.

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