Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Agoraphobia is diagnosed based on signs and symptoms, as well as an in-depth interview with your health care provider. You may also have a physical exam to rule out other conditions that could be causing your symptoms.

To be diagnosed with agoraphobia, you must meet criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association. This manual is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.

Diagnostic criteria for agoraphobia include severe fear or anxiety about two or more of the following situations:

  • Using public transportation, such as a bus or plane
  • Being in an open space, such as a parking lot, bridge or large mall
  • Being in an enclosed space, such as a movie theater, meeting room or small store
  • Waiting in a line or being in a crowd
  • Being out of your home alone

These situations cause anxiety because you fear you won't be able to escape or find help if you develop panic-like symptoms or other disabling or embarrassing symptoms.

In addition, diagnostic criteria for agoraphobia include:

  • Fear or anxiety that almost always results from exposure to a situation
  • Avoidance of the situation, needing a companion to go with you or endurance of this situation with extreme distress
  • Fear or anxiety that's out of proportion to the actual danger posed by the situation
  • Significant distress or problems with social situations, work or other areas in your life caused by the fear, anxiety or avoidance
  • Persistent phobia and avoidance, usually lasting six months or longer
May 02, 2014