Agoraphobia and gender: A review

Marrie H.J. Bekker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Agoraphobia is approximately four times more likely to be diagnosed in women than in men in clinical or community samples. In this article, the literature on the relationship between agoraphobia, biological sex, and gender is reviewed. First, the numerical distribution of agoraphobia is discussed. Second, theories and results of studies are pointed out that contribute to an explanation of the high prevalence of agoraphobia in women. Special attention is paid to the relationship between agoraphobia, dependence, and gender. It is concluded that dependence, or low autonomy, is relevant in agoraphobia but cannot explain the specificity of the disorder. Third, the agoraphobia literature about gendered meanings of solitary and public anonymous situations and publications on bodily sensations are discussed. It is concluded that the current sex role approach to agoraphobia is too narrowly focussed. A broad-spectrum sex role approach is proposed. Finally, several research questions are raised for the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-146
Number of pages18
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1996
Externally publishedYes


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