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Agoraphobia is a fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult, or help wouldn't be available if things go wrong.

Many people assume that agoraphobia is simply a fear of open spaces but it's more complex than this. A person with agoraphobia may be scared of:

  • travelling on public transport
  • visiting a shopping centre
  • leaving home

If someone with agoraphobia finds themselves in a stressful situation they'll usually experience symptoms of a panic attack such as:

  • rapid heartbeat
  • rapid breathing (hyperventilating)
  • feeling hot and sweaty
  • feeling sick

They will avoid situations that cause anxiety and may only leave the house with a friend or partner. They will order groceries online rather than go to the supermarket. This change in behaviour is known as "avoidance".

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This glossary is designed to explain some of the jargon and gobbledygook used by some people when they talk about autism or research..

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