The Difference Between Agoraphobia and Claustrophobia

Claustrophobia is one of the more common phobias discussed today. Less recognized but likely just as prevalent is agoraphobia. While the two have some similarities, they are certainly different phobias with different symptoms.

Going based of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, agoraphobia is defined as an "abnormal fear of being helpless in an embarrassing or inescapable situation that is characterized especially by the avoidance of open or public places". Claustrophobia is defined as the "abnormal dread of being in closed or narrow spaces". These are both primarily spatial issues, but often get confused because of the specification that people with agoraphobia are fearful of inescapable situations, much like those with claustrophobia.

Most people have a firm grasp of the concept of claustrophobia, but to be thorough, it will be reviewed here. Claustrophobia is a fear of small spaces. When one experiences claustrophobia, one often has a heightened heart rate, shake, sweat, or have difficulty breathing. The symptoms of a panic attack are common when a claustrophobic person is put in an enclosed area such as an elevator or crowded room. Severity of symptoms vary from person to person. As with most phobias, it is possible that claustrophobia is brought on my a traumatic event, even if they person is not consciously aware of it. The most typical treatment of claustrophobia is behavioral, getting accustomed to closed spaces and losing fear of them, deep breathing techniques and self-talk.

The symptoms for agoraphobia are very much the same as those for claustrophobia, which may explain where the confusion lies, but they are brought on by different triggers. Agoraphobia is not a fear of small, enclosed spaces. In fact, people with agoraphobia are often fearful of very large places. This is not to say that people with agoraphobia do not become stressed or experience symptoms in enclosed spaces, but what frightens them is not the size of the room, but the amount of people in the room and the ability to leave it. Another distinction is that agoraphobia is often coupled with panic disorder. Once someone has panic attacks, they often becomes fearful that they will have another panic attack in front of people, which can be embarrassing and evoke a panic attack in itself. This anticipatory anxiety often brings on more panic attacks than the original panic triggers. When one is in a large area or crowd of people where they cannot easily escape and are fearful of panicking in front of others, they experience agoraphobia. The unfortunate stigma or those with agoraphobia is the preconception that they are afraid to leave their house and therefore never leave their front door. While this can happen in the most extreme of cases, this is not at all the norm. Agoraphobia can be treated behaviorally as with other phobias, and can also be treated using pharmaceuticals.

While both claustrophobia and agoraphobia are fairly common in today's society, they can become incredibly stressful. However, they are also some of the easier psychological disorders to treat, with patience and practice.

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Nature calls profile image

Nature calls 4 years ago from Croatia

Nice hub.I started to read this as in a way to remember how unpleasant agoraphobia can be.My mum used to suffer from that,and yes,it is really sticky when it comes to a panic attack.Thanks for posting this,so more people will know about this topic.Enjoy your day! :)


anonymous 3 years ago

There are many things to afraid of in a dangerous cruel world and universe. Diseases venomous pests such as centipedes drowning dangerous machinery such as cars guns chainsaws trains etc. And there are dangerous violent people. The ultimate in horror in my opinion is premature burial. Suffocation and claustrophobia. Any enclosed place where one can't move and where its difficult or impossible to breathe can be a torture chamber and death trap. Coffins vaults crypts bombshelters crawlspaces inside refrigerators chimneys a hole in the ground small attics small cellars closets etc can all cause suffocation and claustrophobia. For a small animal the inside of a cabinet can act like a coffin. The inside of a car trunk is another example. Its the most horrific fate. Edgar Allan Poe wrote about it. From the Middle Ages to the 1800s an unknown number of people were buried alive in coffins or vaults. One of my biggest fears is to be buried alive. A bigger fear I have is to find myself in the next life in an enclosed place where I can't move and where I can't escape and where no one can save me. In other words being buried alive in the next life. This is horrific beyond imagining. The only thing worse than being buried alive is being buried alive forever. Even though Im suffocating and can't breathe I continue to exist for the purpose of being tortured by an evil malevolent cruel sadistic sick God or by the Devil. It would be a being whose cruelty and evil is beyond imagining who would do this. This brings up the subject of hell and Hadephobia or fear of hell. Hell is said to have fire worms suffocation excrement demons and Satan and the tortures last forever and the majority of humans will end up there according to the Bible and according to Fundamentalist Christians. Authors Mary Baxter and Bill Wiese have written about hell. Bill Wiese says there are demonic monsters there and a feeling of suffocation. Theres real fire in hell according to both Bill Wiese and Mary Baxter who both have claimed that they have seen visions of hell. Unsaved people are literally going to be roasting like charcoals forever. Its horrific beyond imagining. Fear of God and fear of the Devil are other phobias. A very big fear I have is that God is evil or partly evil and insane. Look at all the horrible evil and suffering God allows in the world. God may torture us in the next life. It's a horrific possibility. Im going to end up in a mental hospital from fear of being buried alive in this life and in the next life and fear of a fiery hell. Claustrophobia and suffocation is just as horrible as intense pain. Claustrophobia and suffocation is just as horrible as being burned in fire. Its worse than any horror movie. I live in fear.


anonymous 3 years ago

I continue as the anonymous guy. I suffer from physical ugliness depression and mental illness and mental torment. I don't have a girlfriend and Im forever lonely. Physical illness such as heart disease and stroke runs in my family and mental illness depression OCD and incompetence runs in my family. I have lousy genes. Nature is cruel and people are cruel. My biggest fear is that God is also cruel or evil or insane. Read other Hubsites such as Bill's Place where I write about phobias and about premature burial and hell. I have also written for the Hubsite Horror movies/How horror movies show us the dark negative side by Buzzbee where I talk about movies such as Rosemarys Baby The Exorcist etc. There has to be an evil demonic Devilish Satanic force behind the world working invisibly and silently to corrupt and to cause suffering. Otherwise its impossible to explain the evils and miseries in the world and impossible to explain its Satanic nature. For years Ive suffered from nightmares. Since December 1990. That's almost 23 years. This world is a nightmare and a horror movie and Satan the Devil is ruling it. I live in fear.


rockrweasle profile image

rockrweasle 3 years ago from Wisconsin Author

I don't think anyone can truly understand the turmoil one feels with agoraphobia and claustrophobia unless they've actually experienced it at its worst. One of the best things to remember in these situations is that you're not alone. It's unbelievable to think that there's still a stigma when SO many people today suffer from some kind of mental illness. I strongly encourage anyone struggling with agoraphobia, claustrophobia, or any other mental illness to seek help in whichever way they find best suited for them individually. This could be reading a self-help book, talking to a friend, talking to a professional, getting medication, writing in a journal, or any combination of these things (there are endless other options!). No one is alone in their fears. It's an incredible challenge to remember when life seems like it can't get worse, but there is help which can make things easier and people are getting better every day.


anonymous 3 years ago

Is there a term for phobia of an evil god or for phobia of an insane god? I fear God or Gods as in plural is evil or partly evil or He is insane and will punish me in the next life in hell. A God doesn't have to be totally evil to be scary and dangerous. Just being partly evil is scary enough. The Bible says this about God: I form light and create darkness I make peace and create evil. (Isahaia chapter 45 verse 7 in King James Bible.) Other Bible translations subsitute the word evil with disaster calamity catastrophe woe misery depending on translation to soften this disturbing claim. Isn't disaster another word for evil? A being who creates or who causes disaster is either at least partly evil or insane or amoral like Nature itself. The Biblical God has a split personality or a Jekyll and Hyde. This can be seen in His contradictory behavior and contradictory commandments throughout the entire Bible and in the Nature He created. If He created roses then He also created the horrific ebola virus. He set humanity up to be screwed with a dangerous destructive experiment with free will and Adam and Eve. He irresponsibly allowed a talking tempting snake(how does a snake even talk?) to enter the Garden of Eden and it succeeded in deceiving Adam and Eve. God allows Adam and Eve's sin to be passed on to all future unborn humans and decides to curse and punish the ENTIRE creation including innocent animals. Sin disease starvation intense cold intense heat painful childbirth enmity with snakes predation violence venomous pestz such as centipedes parasites hurricanes tsunamis and of course sll manner of human cruelty and death. God is unreasoning unjust and cruel. And He threatens people with hell in the next life. If blame for evil and suffering is to be thrown on Satan and demons then why is God allowing these evil entites to corrupt ruin and cause misery and havoc in God's creation? Its a misrun mismanaged creation. The world is a horror movie. I live in fear.


rockrweasle profile image

rockrweasle 3 years ago from Wisconsin Author

There are LOADS of terms for religious phobias (based on a Google search). Demonophobia is a fear of demons, Enosiophobia is a fear of having committed an unpardonable sin, Hadephobia is a fear of hell, Uranophobia is a fear of heaven, Papaphobia is a fear of the Pope, Satanophobia is a fear of Satan. But I think what you mean is either Theophobia (fear of gods or religion) or Zeusophobia (fear of God or gods). I'm not a psychiatrist or psychologist, and this is just based off some internet research. I'd suggest talking to either a trusted religious leader (a priest, pastor, what have you) or a mental health professional (psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor). Psychologytoday.com can be helpful at times. I hope this helps!


jette 3 years ago

well i'm glad i have read this... i know for a fact that i am claustrophobic... but i always have anxiety attacks whenever i go to the mall on sale..or when i go to crowded place... we have a convention tomorrow and i decided not to go cause there are 4000 delegates.. and true enough i fear that if i have a panic attack i would just be a burden to others which scares me as well... well some people don't understand why i have to back out... they just don't know the feeling i have whenever i had that anxiety attack... and i don't want that to happen again...


anonymous 3 years ago

According to the demented preacher David J. Stewart, victims in hell will be buried alive in a claustrophobic, coffin like environment forever as they burn in fire at the same time. Being locked inside a coffin for just a few minutes would have me raging and raving, but forever? This is monstrous, sadistic, malevolent, fiendish, diabolical cruelty infinitely vastly worse than any horror movie. And according to this sick preacher, David J. Stewart, billions of people are going to end up in hell to be tortured in the most horrifying ways imaginable or unimaginable. Im going to end up in a mental hospital from fear. Unimaginable horror. The world is a horror movie and according to Fundamentalists such as David J. Stewart the next life will be a vastly worse horror movie lasting forever for billions of people in hell. This is INSUPPORTABLE. I live in endless fear.

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