Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Agoraphobia is diagnosed based on signs and symptoms, as well as an in-depth interview with your doctor. You may also have a physical exam. A physical exam is important because some of the signs and symptoms of a panic attack are similar to those of other conditions.

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

For agoraphobia to be diagnosed, you must meet these criteria:

  • Anxiety about being in places or situations that it may be difficult or embarrassing to get out of, or in which you may not be able to get help if you develop panic-like symptoms
  • Avoiding places or situations where you fear you may have a panic attack, or having great distress and anxiety in those situations

In addition, your mental health provider will try to determine if you might have panic disorder, social phobia or another specific type of phobia, rather than agoraphobia, since these conditions have a lot in common.

Apr. 21, 2011