Until recently agoraphobia was defined as a fear of open spaces.
But doctors say it is one of the more common forms of agoraphobia , a disorder characterized by a fear of open spaces.
When people's lives become so restricted by the disorder, as happens in about one-third of all people with panic disorder, the condition is called agoraphobia .
About twice as many women as men are said to have panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia , and specific phobia.
Another type of agoraphobia is driving phobia - the fear of being trapped in heavy traffic.
Many have also developed the mental disorder agoraphobia , a fear of open or public places, the study by Columbia University found.
These include agoraphobia , the opposite of claustrophobia, when sufferers fear public situations from which escape may be difficult or embarrassing or where help will not be at hand in the event of a panic attack.
From the 1970s Chris had gradually developed a debilitating case of agoraphobia and depression, and he got to the point, he says, where he couldn't leave the house - and if he did, he experienced panic attacks.
Unchecked, the disorder often sets in motion a debilitating psychological sequel syndrome of agoraphobia , avoiding public places.
I've seen clients who suffered for years with nameless agony, only to read an article about agoraphobia or panic disorder in a popular magazine.