Difference Between Agoraphobia and Claustrophobia

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Agoraphobia and Claustrophobia

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The distinction between agoraphobia and claustrophobia is a common query. Agoraphobia is the fear of being in situations where you might experience a panic attack or find it challenging to flee. Agoraphobia can also occur in some people with panic disorder. As your agoraphobia worsens, you become more and more confined to your house because you fear going to areas where you might experience a panic attack or where it would be challenging to flee.

On the other hand, claustrophobia is a severe phobia of enclosed, constrained settings from which it is challenging to leave. If you have claustrophobia, being in a small, enclosed environment will make you extremely uneasy or cause a panic attack.

Agoraphobia vs. Claustrophobia

Agoraphobia and claustrophobia mean different things. Agoraphobia is the fear of being around people or being in public areas where there are people around. On the other hand, claustrophobia is a dread of enclosed or cramped situations.

Agoraphobia is known as a fear of being in open areas with many people present. The phrase has its roots in the Greek word "agora," which denotes a gathering place for people or a market. People with this phobia frequently experience feelings of helplessness, embarrassment, or being stuck in a crowd.

The fear of being in small, enclosed areas is known as claustrophobia. Its root is the Latin word "claustrum," which denotes a confined space. Every time someone is in a small, enclosed environment, such as an elevator or a room, they start to wonder what might happen to them there. As these thoughts grow more intense, they start to feel fear.

Difference Between Agoraphobia and Claustrophobia in Tabular Form

Parameters Of Comparison Agoraphobia Claustrophobia
Meaning Agoraphobia is known as a fear of being in open areas with many people present. The fear of being in small, enclosed areas is known as claustrophobia.
Medical concern Less More
Phobia of open areas crowded with people. Closed and confined spaces.
Panic attack A panic attack is more likely to occur in those with this phobia. A panic attack is less likely to occur in those with this phobia.
Type It is an independent type of phobia. It fits the definition of a certain phobia.

What Is Agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by a severe and illogical dread of being stuck in a challenging or unpleasant situation should panic-like or other incapacitating symptoms appear.

Anxiety, a defining feature of the condition, makes people avoid circumstances where they could feel scared, confined, helpless, or embarrassed. It can exist alone or in conjunction with another mental illness, such as panic disorder.

This dread frequently causes a person to engage in persistent avoidance behaviors, such as starting to avoid the locations and circumstances where they anticipate experiencing panic. A person with agoraphobia, for instance, could avoid driving a car, leaving the comfort of home, going shopping in a mall, and taking an aircraft.

A person with agoraphobia may engage in these avoidance behaviors, which can severely restrict and isolate them in their personal and professional lives. For instance, having agoraphobia might make it challenging for a person to travel for business or to see family and friends due to heightened concerns and avoidance behaviors. Even simple chores like going to the shop can become challenging.

With agoraphobia, the fear and avoidance can get so bad that the sufferer is limited to their house. Thankfully, agoraphobic symptoms are curable.

Different Agoraphobias

It is possible to be given an agoraphobia diagnosis without a history of panic disorder, even though many persons with agoraphobia also have panic disorder. When this happens, the person still fears getting trapped in a circumstance they would find difficult or embarrassing to escape. They typically don't worry, though, about having full-blown panic episodes.

Instead, they might fear experiencing another distressing anxiety symptom or serious physical problems, such as vomiting or a terrible migraine. For instance, the person can be terrified of passing out in front of others or losing consciousness without assistance.

Treatment for Agoraphobia

Once a person starts experiencing frequent, persistent panic episodes, signs of agoraphobia with panic disorder often appear within the first year. However, if ignored, agoraphobia can develop worse.

For the best outcomes in treating agoraphobia and panic attacks, treatment must be sought as soon as symptoms arise. Typically, a patient's treatment options will combine both medicine and psychotherapy.

  1. Psychotherapy

Systematic desensitization, whereby the patient gradually confronts avoided circumstances under the help and direction of their therapist, may be a component of the therapeutic method. According to some studies, exposure and psychodynamic therapy can be combined to treat panic disorder and agoraphobia. Often, the person will do better if they are joined by a reliable buddy when facing their anxieties.

  1. Medications

Additionally, doctors may recommend medications to assist treat some agoraphobia symptoms.

Agoraphobia is identified in what ways?

Consult a primary care physician or psychiatrist if you believe you have agoraphobia and the anxiety affects your everyday life. You might be able to make a phone or video appointment if you're hesitant to go to the doctor in person.

Based on the nature, frequency, and severity of your symptoms, a medical professional can determine whether you have agoraphobia. Therefore, it's critical to communicate honestly and openly with your healthcare providers. If you meet the criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association, your doctor may make the diagnosis of agoraphobia. In addition, a person must experience intense fear or panic in at least two of the following circumstances to be diagnosed with agoraphobia:

  • Use public transport.
  • Being in a spacious area.
  • Being in a small store, conference room, or other enclosed location.
  • Forming a line or being surrounded by others.
  • Being alone outside of your home.

What is Claustrophobia?

Claustrophobia is the dread of being in enclosed or closed spaces. Some people have a phobia of such areas, while others fear going there or being there. When the sensation of being afraid of something worsens, fear becomes a phobia. Similarly, people develop claustrophobia as they fear being in enclosed spaces increases.

People with claustrophobia may avoid traveling to locations other people might find enjoyable. As a result, people with claustrophobia frequently miss out on activities that involve visiting enclosed spaces and spending time there. It also has an impact on the everyday tasks and responsibilities that people must fulfill. However, you can treat claustrophobia.

Some claustrophobics have had traumatic experiences in previous lives, and their current anxiety problems have also contributed to the fear's development. Additionally, it may damage their relationships with others. Finally, it has an impact on a person's self-esteem and confidence as well.

People can become claustrophobic in places like elevators, storerooms, cellars, tunnels, and rooms without windows. As a result, people become overwhelmed and anxious, and the idea of being shut in a small space disturbs them. Gradually, the situation worsens to the point where people start having panic attacks. Treatment options include cognitive behavioral therapy, desensitization therapy, and others.

Claustrophobia's Root Causes

Researchers are still unsure of the possible causes of claustrophobia. Many people think that it might have its roots in unpleasant childhood memories. Others think it might be a relic of an evolutionary protection mechanism connected to the risks of being surrounded and unable to flee.

The development of claustrophobia may also be influenced by other underlying anxieties, such as a fear of pain, a fear of losing control, or a fear of dying.

Researchers from Emory University concluded that claustrophobic panic is more likely to occur in persons who mistakenly believe they are closer to something than they are. In either case, a history of claustrophobia may eventually develop into a more severe form of the condition.

How Is Claustrophobia Handled Medically?

Treatment options for claustrophobia are plentiful and effective. 90% of the time, treatment is successful; the illness is treatable. One of the greatest treatments for claustrophobia is psychotherapy, and several types of therapy successfully treat this phobia.

According to Anwar, cognitive behavioral therapy can be used to alter unfavorable thoughts and sensations that result from claustrophobia-provoking circumstances. "Exposure therapy helps people overcome their claustrophobia by placing them in an environment that is close to their actual claustrophobia but is not dangerous. In addition, visualization approaches include imagining the anxiety-provoking situation.

Treatment Options for Claustrophobia

  1. A CBT therapist works one-on-one with clients to alter negative thought patterns and the accompanying behaviors. For claustrophobia, this looks like sessions where you explore your fear of being in small spaces and consider strategies to overcome it.
  2. Another successful way of treating claustrophobia is exposure therapy. Through gradual exposure to their fear, clients in this kind of treatment gradually feel less overwhelmed and under its sway. You can desensitize yourself to the extreme fear previously connected with the circumstance by repeatedly being exposed to the phobia.
  3. Techniques for visualization are crucial for the treatment of claustrophobia. In this approach, the patient learns how to manage their worries using mental imagery. When having a panic attack, picturing a safe place can be beneficial. It has been proven helpful to use visualization techniques in therapy to manage fear when it arises.

Fear of Claustrophobia Therapy

Treatment has demonstrable advantages. However, it seems to sense that many phobia sufferers do not seek treatment. Anxiety and fear can arise throughout treatment. The person may be hesitant to begin treatment because the majority of treatment alternatives require some form of confrontation with the object or event they are afraid of.

Family and friends can offer support and encouragement, which can be beneficial. Some treatments may be especially difficult for someone attempting to overcome a phobia. Therefore they will require the support and affection of their loved ones. To encourage the person seeking therapy, the therapist may even invite friends or family to some of the sessions.

How to Assist a Claustrophobic Person?

Seeing a loved one struggle with crippling anxiety while unsure what to do can be frightening. But, even if there is no quick fix for mental illness, you can help your loved one through their difficulties. Just being there to listen and acknowledge their feelings for someone suffering from anxiety would likely mean the world. Finding treatment can also help them when they have trouble finding a path.

Please seek help from a qualified mental health professional if you or a loved one is experiencing claustrophobia. Treatment for claustrophobia is available, and a life without crippling fear is possible.

Advice for Coping with Claustrophobia

Many claustrophobic people will clear the environments that make them feel the illness. But given that you might eventually find yourself in a terrifying but inescapable position, that might not be a smart long-term option. Here are some strategies for handling an attack:

  1. With each breath, count to three while taking a calm, deep breath.
  2. Think of something secure, like the passing of time on your watch.
  3. Keep telling yourself that your anxiety and fear will pass.
  4. By affirming that the fear is unreasonable, you can challenge whatever is causing the assault.
  5. Consider and concentrate on a location or time that makes you feel peaceful.

It's crucial to refrain from defending yourself from the attack as it's happening. If you can't stop the attack from happening, your worry may rise and make the attack worse. On the other hand, you might desire to stop the attack from happening.

Accept that the assault is happening, reaffirm that it's okay to feel these emotions, reassure yourself that the attack isn't life-threatening, and keep in mind that it will pass.

People who suffer from claustrophobia can get better with treatment. Some people find that as they age, their claustrophobia goes away. But, if it doesn't, several strategies exist to manage your triggers, treat your physical symptoms of fear, and live an active and full life.

Main Differences Between Agoraphobia and Claustrophobia in Points

  • Agoraphobia is a dread of open, busy environments. Claustrophobia, on the other side, is a fear of enclosed environments.
  • A distinct and autonomous type of phobia is agoraphobia. The subtype of claustrophobia is the opposite.
  • While the word claustrophobia is derived from the Latin word claustrum, the word agoraphobia is derived from the Greek word "agora."
  • A panic attack is more likely to happen to someone who is agoraphobic. On the other hand, a claustrophobic individual is less likely to have a panic episode.
  • Agoraphobia primarily affects the populace. Contrarily, claustrophobia is primarily affected by the environment and how it is.


Both phobias cause extreme physical and mental exhaustion. They have an impact on both a person's interpersonal relationships and daily activities. These anxieties may potentially result in some major problems if they become more intense. A person should visit a doctor as soon as they become aware of the symptoms. However, they shouldn't wait for the fear to grow worse. To treat it, they must take the right medications and treatments.


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"Difference Between Agoraphobia and Claustrophobia." Diffzy.com, 2024. Fri. 19 Jul. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-agoraphobia-and-claustrophobia-990>.

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