Agoraphobia vs. Social Anxiety | Banyan Mental Health

Difference Between Agoraphobia and Social Anxiety

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Difference Between Agoraphobia and Social Anxiety

difference between agoraphobia and social anxiety

Difference Between Agoraphobia and Social Anxiety

As a mental illness treatment center in Boca, we know that agoraphobia and social anxiety disorder are often mistaken for each other despite their distinct qualities. Though both conditions are types of anxiety disorders and can cause a person to avoid particular situations, the contributing factors to social anxiety and agoraphobia are different. We’re looking into the difference between agoraphobia and social anxiety disorder and the importance of understanding these disorders individually.

Agoraphobia Meaning and Symptoms

Many people merely associate agoraphobia with the fear of leaving your home, but it’s more than that. Agoraphobia is the fear, anxiety, or avoidance of several of the things like:

  • Open spaces
  • Crowds
  • Waiting in line
  • Leaving the house or being away from home alone
  • Having a panic attack in public places
  • Being in situations where escape might be difficult
  • Being in situations where they couldn’t be easily helped
  • Public transportation
  • Enclosed spaces (like elevators)

People with agoraphobia may avoid specific places like crowds, buses, elevators, and bridges. Agoraphobia causes may include existing panic disorders or other phobias, genetics, environment, and learned behaviors. The most distinct characteristic of agoraphobia is that the fear and anxiety caused by the place or situation don’t equate to the actual risk or danger present. When exposed to any triggering situation, a person with agoraphobia may experience symptoms like:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Chest pains
  • Difficulties breathing
  • Excessive sweating and shaking
  • Stomach troubles
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Feeling out of control
  • Feeling as if they’re dying

Many of these individuals can cope with their symptoms if they’re with someone else. A big contributing factor of agoraphobia is the fear of leaving the house alone, which is why having company can help. Agoraphobia and panic disorder often occur simultaneously. Many of its symptoms are related to the fear of having a panic attack in public. According to data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, 86.3 percent of individuals with agoraphobia also suffered from panic disorder.1

At Banyan Mental Health, we offer various mental health programs in Boca Raton that have helped people with panic disorder and anxiety disorders like agoraphobia. As with any other form of mental illness, a lack of treatment may lead to worsening symptoms.

Social Anxiety Disorder Definition and Symptoms

Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) is the fear of embarrassing oneself, offending others, or being rejected by others. Some common symptoms of a social anxiety disorder include:

  • Fear of being in situations in which you may be judged
  • Worrying about embarrassing or humiliating yourself in front of others
  • Intense fear of talking or interacting with strangers
  • Fear of others noticing your anxiousness
  • Fear of showing physical symptoms that may cause you embarrassment
  • Avoiding situations or people for fear of embarrassment
  • Avoiding situations where you may have everyone’s attention
  • Having anxiety over a feared activity or event
  • Feeling intense fear or anxiety in a social situation
  • Analyzing your performance or finding flaws in your interactions with others
  • Expecting the worst-case scenario from a negative expiring during interaction with others

Causes of social anxiety disorder symptoms can include inherited traits, brain structure, and learned behavior based on their environment. A person with a social anxiety disorder may avoid common social situations like interacting with strangers, going to parties or social events, going to school or work, starting conversations, dating, and more. These symptoms can change over time and may worsen when the person is facing a lot of stress. Our anxiety treatment in Boca is recommended for anyone who’s struggling with anxiety, regardless of whether they believe their condition is severe or not.

Panic Attacks in Agoraphobia and Social Anxiety

When comparing agoraphobia vs social anxiety disorder, it's important to know that both can co-occur with panic attacks. A panic attack is a sudden feeling of intense fear or worry that has no specific cause. Panic attacks often cause symptoms like increased heart rate, a sense of impending doom, trouble breathing, and nausea. A panic disorder diagnosis requires the person to experience recurring panic attacks as well as fear or worry that they’re going to experience a panic attack in the future. Individuals with panic disorder are at high risk of developing agoraphobia, which can result from an experience with panic attack triggers. However, the same is true for people with social anxiety disorder. Panic disorder and social anxiety are also distinct conditions that can occur simultaneously.

What Is The Difference Between Agoraphobia and Social Anxiety Disorder?

The difference between social anxiety and agoraphobia is that a person with agoraphobia fears having anxiety attacks or losing control in specific situations, while a person with social anxiety worries about being judged or feeling embarrassed in social situations. Although agoraphobia and social anxiety disorder can both cause avoidance of certain situations, this avoidance is different. Also, people with social anxiety are not known to have agoraphobia. Both anxiety disorders can each coincide with panic disorder and can cause a person to engage in substance abuse in an attempt to cope with their symptoms. This can cause a whole other set of problems.

If you're wondering, "Do I have agoraphobia or social anxiety disorder?", we can help. Our Banyan mental health program offers treatment to help people with agoraphobia, social anxiety, and other related mental disorders. We can also help diagnose any condition you may have. If you or someone you know needs substance abuse treatment or mental health care, call us now at 888-280-4763 for more information about our mental illness treatment in Boca.

Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.

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