Agoraphobia in Children and Adolescents
Agoraphobia is a persistent fear of being trapped in situations or places without a way to escape easily and without help. Diagnosis is by history. Treatment is with benzodiazepines or SSRIs and behavioral therapy.
(See also Agoraphobia in adults.)
During a typical agoraphobic situation (eg, standing in line, sitting in the middle of a long row in a classroom), some people have panic attacks; others simply feel uncomfortable. Agoraphobia is uncommon among children, but it may develop in adolescents, particularly those who also have panic attacks.
Agoraphobia often interferes with function and, if severe enough, can cause people to become housebound.
For agoraphobia to be diagnosed, patients must consistently have fear or anxiety about ≥ 2 of the following for ≥ 6 mo:
Also, the fear must cause patients to avoid the distressing situation to the extent that they have difficulty functioning normally (eg, going to school, visiting the mall, doing other typical activities).
Agoraphobia must be distinguished from the following: