Agoraphobia is the fear of the market place. This basically the fear of open spaces or being crowded. Agoraphobia is not just another name for shyness it is a social phobia. It is usually goes unrecognized and untreated. Common questions asked are what causes it and how do you treat it? I will answer these questions for you.
Nearly 900,000 teenagers suffer from agoraphobia. Most people don't realize that panic disorders often first become apparent in teenage years. A large percent show sings before their 18th birthday. Its less noticeable in adolescence because the disorders are attributed to the normal stresses of puberty. This is the most common phobia and effects 5-10 percent of adults also. Adult with this are four times more likely to develop other anxiety disorder or abuse drugs and alcohol. Its more common in woman than in men. I think shyness in boys gets more negative attention but shyness in girls is more accepted by people so the guys change and girls don't. In an article I read a teenage girl with agoraphobia thought she was going crazy and no one else had her problem. After getting help she realized that a lot suffer from this and she shouldn't let it take over her life.
Agoraphobic's fears often interfere with work, school, relationship and daily life. Symptoms associated with agoraphobia are rapid heartbeat, trembling, sweating and upset stomach. The most sever are panic attacks which are short period of intense fear. People with this disorder will avoid and dread situations. At first they start avoiding a few and then avoid most situations. There is a variety of situations one might avoid such as crowded places because the individual fears loosing control in front of so many people. Other are shopping malls , large grocery stores, planes and trains because escape may be difficult. Also any situation that the individual experience a panic attack in the past. Some agoraphbic's become completely housebound though it is not very common.
Treatment for such individuals may be to start with housecalls until they can make their way down to the office. Other treatment's are positive self-talks like saying "I can do this and nothing is going to happen to me." Behavioral therapy where the patient has a "safe person"(someone they trust) go out places with them. Therapy (group and individual)are effective. Medications can also help but there may be some withdrawal symptoms when they come off it.
Agoraphobia could be a result of previously repressed emotional problems, such as a death of a loved-one or any type of abuse. The fear of some situations is learned. After feeling uneasy in one situation someone might think they will get the same feeling next time. this is classified on the DSM-IV it is an excessive or unrealistic worry about life circumstances.
I hope I answered some of your questions about the disorder. If you think you have the symptoms you should be evaluated because the longer you wait the harder it will be.