Is agoraphobia more common in men or women?
Agoraphobia has been
referred to as a “women’s disease.” Approximately four times
as many women are diagnosed with agoraphobia than men. This,
however, does not mean that an equal number of men are not
experiencing the anxiety symptoms of agoraphobia. A number
of potential reasons for the greater number of agoraphobia
diagnoses among women are currently being explored in
Women are more likely to engage in help-seeking behavior,
therefore, more women are actually diagnosed with
Masculine sex-role stereotypes make it hard for men to
openly admit feelings of anxiety.
When men do experience the symptoms of agoraphobia they are
more likely to turn to alcohol and get diagnosed as
Female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) decrease during
the pre-menstrual phase making it easier for women to
develop conditioned anxiety responses.
Traditional female sex roles prescribe women to react to
anxiety by engaging in dependent and helpless behavior (like
the behavior of an agoraphobic).
Women are more likely to stay at home alone during the day,
making them more likely to become aware and worry about
unusual bodily sensations.
Research studies that have investigated reasons for the
larger number of females with agoraphobia have not produced
a clear explanation. While there are some convincing studies
to support each of the above explanations, there are equally
convincing studies that don’t. Explaining the gender gap in
the diagnosis of agoraphobia is an area in need of further
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