What is Agoraphobia? Learn About The Anxiety Disorder That Zac Efron Has

A series of events that combined in the last 4 years of Zac Efron's life led him to agoraphobia. What symptoms does he suffer from? We'll tell you all about this condition here.
What is Agoraphobia? Learn About The Anxiety Disorder That Zac Efron Has
Leonardo Biolatto

Written and verified by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Last update: 16 April, 2023

Some recent statements by Zac Efron about his agoraphobia have revealed questions about some of his behavior. Many times, he has been seen withdrawing quickly from crowds of people and events he participates in due to his acting obligations.

In addition, he was recently criticized a lot for an alleged cosmetic surgery he had that changed his face too much. The delay in the actor’s response increased the speculation.

It turned out that he had actually fractured his jaw and was in rehab. But what was the reason why his clarification did not come out in time to stop the rumors? Because of the agoraphobia that Zac Efron has, he logs on to social media very little. He found out about the comments that were made on the Internet in a call from his mother.

Zac Efron’s statements about his agoraphobia

The most notable expressions of the actor in his last interview were the following:

“I just don’t go out. People in large groups trigger my agoraphobia.” -Zac Efron

In theory, the problems started after his physical preparation and filming of the movie Baywatch. In order to be in shape and show a sculpted physique, the Californian had to perform strict and demanding routines.

In the middle of the physical preparation, the actor was afflicted by various injuries. He tore an anterior cruciate ligament in one of his knees, dislocated a shoulder, fractured one of his wrists, and suffered from repeated back pain.

The Baywatch experience marked him. He felt the wear and tear he had never had before and wanted to stop to recover. However, that stop did not come until the pandemic.

When restrictions were enacted due to the spread of COVID-19, the actor stayed in a small coastal town in Australia: Byron Bay. There, in a place with less than 10,000 inhabitants, he relaxed and exchanged his heavy training for less impactful activities.

agoraphobia Zac Efron a beach
Byron Bay is a coastal town in Australia. It’s small, and the low pandemic mobilization reduced its flow of people, as tourism was banned.

The injury to his face

The injury to his jaw occurred in Australia. He was running inside his house on the coast, tripped, and hit something. He was knocked unconscious for a few moments.

When I woke up, I noticed that my chin bone was hanging off my face. -Zac Efron

His face changed completely. His masseter muscles were overgrown to compensate for the lack of mechanics he had in his jaw. That led him to a hypertrophic development of the face that looked like a bad cosmetic surgery.

As the actor had already gotten used to staying away from social networks, the internet, the media, and groups of people, he never knew about the memes that were circulating about him. Some images that he had to film due to commercial commitments showed him with his face enlarged, and the Internet users were not kind to him, caricaturing him.

A phone call from his mother made him aware of what was happening. Then there came a public clarification, albeit a belated one. Today, the artist’s face is back to usual, recovered, and with no signs of the fracture.

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What is the agoraphobia that Zac Efron suffers from?

It’s possible that all of Zac Efron’s recent traumatic experiences have contributed to his agoraphobia. This is a mental health disorder that is defined as an irrational fear of being in places from which there’s a perceived difficulty in escaping.

Of course, this difficulty is all in a person’s perception. There are people with agoraphobia for fear of being in the midst of many people. For others, the problem is bridges or very large open spaces.

It’s very common for people who have had panic attacks to have agoraphobia. For them, being in public and thinking about the possibility of a new attack without receiving adequate help or making a fool of themselves is enough to increase their anxiety.

Gradually, people with this condition tend to change their routines to avoid crowds. Some even avoid leaving their homes. After the pandemic confinement, diagnosed cases of this disorder increased.

Like this article? You may also like to read: Gelotophobia: How to Overcome the Fear of Being Made Fun Of

Risk factors for agoraphobia

Scientific evidence indicates that agoraphobia tends to appear at an early age, almost always before the age of 35. Zac Efron, for example, is now 34.

There are also childhood and adolescent onsets of this disorder. According to statistics, women tend to suffer from it more than men.

Stress is considered a relevant risk factor for leading to the clinical picture. This is increased if the person has an anxious personality. And of course, there’s a greater likelihood when the person has established psychiatric diagnoses, such as depression, other phobias, or panic attacks.

Severe cases can lead to patients developing unhealthy avoidance methods. We’re not just talking about seclusion at home and avoidance of social contact, but harmful practices, such as excessive alcohol or recreational drug use.

At the extreme, there are pepole who never leave their homes again. New technological facilities allow a person to make purchases over the Internet and pay for services through home banking and telework. In this context, it seems to be the perfect excuse for the agoraphobic to lock himself or herself up more and more.

A woman confined during the pandemic
The passage of general confinement for almost two years and the rise of remote technologies have favored the increase in cases of agoraphobia.

Is there a treatment for Zac Efron’s agoraphobia?

We don’t know if the Californian actor is getting psychiatric treatment. The approach usually combines cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques with certain medications. These include the following:

  • Antidepressants: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as sertraline or fluoxetine, are preferred.
  • Anxiolytics: Benzodiazepines are prescribed for times of heightened anxiety and stress.

Support groups are another strategy implemented for people with agoraphobia. There, they can share their experiences with people going through the same fear of crowds and open spaces. It’s also an opportunity to learn relaxation techniques that can be applied if the initial symptoms of a panic attack are detected.

In short, Zac Efron’s agoraphobia brings to the table the reality of the stress that well-known actors so often are forced to experience. Dealing with the constant demand for attention from fans and the demands of the media is not always an easy task. For the artist, the treatment is also about reinventing himself in this new context.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Sandín, Bonifacio, et al. “Sucesos vitales estresantes y trastornos de pánico: relación con el inicio del trastorno, la gravedad clínica y la agorafobia.” (2006).
  • Mitrasinovic, Miodrag. “Agoraphobia: New York City Public Space in the Time of COVID-19.” The Journal of Public Space 5.3 (2020): 83-90.
  • Tibi, Lee, et al. “An admixture analysis of age of onset in agoraphobia.” Journal of affective disorders 180 (2015): 112-115.
  • Martin, Patrick. “The epidemiology of anxiety disorders: a review.” Dialogues in clinical neuroscience (2022).

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.