Predictors of Agoraphobia

Keshia Wagers, Jonathan S. Gore*, Eastern Kentucky University

Full manuscript:

Abstract: Separation anxiety disorder, school phobia, and gender have all been implicated in being able to predict the onset of agoraphobia. This study tested the hypothesis that separation anxiety disorder, school phobia, and gender would predict unique variance in the symptoms of agoraphobia both with a close companion and when alone. One hundred students at Eastern Kentucky University completed a survey that assessed their separation anxiety disorder symptoms, school phobia symptoms experienced during childhood, and agoraphobia symptoms. Symptoms of school phobia predicted symptoms of agoraphobia when the individual was with someone, and both school phobia and separation anxiety disorder symptoms predicted symptoms of agoraphobia when the individual was alone. Gender was not a significant predictor of agoraphobia symptoms. These results imply that more factors may influence the expression of agoraphobia symptoms when an individual is alone compared to when they are with someone else.

Predictors of Agoraphobia Anxiety is common for most people in some aspect of their lives and most people easily recognize the emotional and physical symptoms associated with it. However, once anxiety begins to interfere in a person’s life, it can become a serious problem. Separation anxiety disorder is one of the most common anxiety disorders among children, and school phobia, or school refusal, is often associated with this disorder (Mash & Wolfe, 2010). Separation anxiety disorder and school phobia both involve fear of either situations or of being separated from home or parents. Agoraphobia is also an anxiety disorder, and it is characterized by a fear of specific places or situations, especially if the feared situation occurs without a close friend or family member (Mash & Wolfe, 2010). It is estimated that approximately 5 percent of the United States has been diagnosed with agoraphobia, with 40 percent of those cases being classified as severe. Severe agoraphobia can cause serious impairment and interfere with individuals’ lives greatly. The purpose of this study was to examine the degree to which several factors predict agoraphobia symptoms and how these differ depending on whether or not the person experiences the symptoms with someone else present.

Read the full manuscript: