Background: In DSM-5, the agoraphobia core symptom criterion has been revised to require fear about multiple situations from across at least two distinct domains in which escape might be difficult or panic-like symptoms might develop. The present study examined patterns and correlates of the recent change in a sample of anxious youth with symptom presentations consistent with the DSM-IV agoraphobia definition and/or specific phobia (SP) to consider how the recent diagnostic change impacts the prevalence and composition of agoraphobia in children and adolescents.
Method: Analyses (N = 151) evaluated impairment and correlates of agoraphobic youth who no longer meet the DSM-5 agoraphobia criteria relative to agoraphobic youth who do meet the new DSM-5 criteria. Secondary analyses compared agoraphobic youth not meeting DSM-5 criteria to SP youth.
Results: One-quarter of youth with symptom presentations consistent with the DSM-IV agoraphobia definition no longer met criteria for DSM-5 agoraphobia, but showed comparable severity and impairment across most domains to youth who do meet criteria for DSM-5 agoraphobia. Further, these youth showed higher levels of anxiety sensitivity and internalizing psychopathology relative to youth with SP.
Conclusions: A substantial proportion of impaired youth with considerable agoraphobic symptom presentations have been left without a specified anxiety diagnosis by the DSM-5, which may affect their ability to receive and/or get coverage for services and their representation in treatment evaluations. Future DSM iterations may do well to include a "circumscribed" agoraphobia specifier that would characterize presentations of fear or anxiety about multiple situations, but that do not span across at least two distinct situational domains.
Keywords: agoraphobia; anxiety; assessment; child/adolescent; diagnosis; phobias.
© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.