What is Claustrophobia?

Claustrophobia is the persistent and irrational fear of being enclosed in a small space or room and having no escape. It can be triggered by many situations or stimuli, including elevators crowded to capacity, windowless rooms and even tight-necked clothing.

Although claustrophobia

One study indicates that 5–7% of the world population may be affected by severe claustrophobia

The root word “claustrum” is Latin meaning “lock” or “bolt”.

Symptoms of Claustrophobia

Emotional / behavioral

  • fear of being judged
  • fear of embarrassment
  • fear of offending others
  • intense fear of strangers
  • fear of being noticed
  • fear of physical symptoms
  • avoiding people
  • intense need to escape
  • extreme irritability
  • extreme anxiety
  • expecting bad outcomes
  • fear of losing control
  • fear of death

Physical symptoms

  • heart palpitations
  • chest pains
  • gastrointestinal distress
  • nausea or diarrhea
  • shortness of breath
  • choking sensations
  • excessive sweating
  • confusion or lack of focus
  • chills or heat flush
  • feeling faint or dizzy
  • trembling or shaking
  • tingling sensations
  • headaches

Learn more about phobia symptoms

Causes of Claustrophobia

Claustrophobia develops as association of close spaces with imminent danger. People with claustrophobia

Some theories also suggest that it could be an evolutionary phobia, meaning that the fear of small spaces could have some evolutionary benefit.

Claustrophobia is a social anxiety disorder. Social phobias result in avoidance of social situations due to fear of being embarrassed in public. Social phobia affects men and women equally. Extreme social anxieties often start in childhood or adolescence due to social traumas or embarrassments, etc., and may be accompanied by other anxiety disorders or depression.

The origins of social anxiety disorders are not as well understood as specific (or “isolated”) phobias, where a direct fear of injury from some specific animal, thing or situation forms a clear basis for the fear. Even so, hereditary factors may be present, such as a genetic tendency to be “high strung” or nervous, etc.

In all kinds of phobias, external experiences and / or reports can further reinforce or develop the fear, such as seeing a family member or friend who is affected. In extreme cases, indirect exposures can be as remote as overhearing a reference in conversation or seeing something on the news or on TV and movies.

Claustrophobia, like most phobias, stems from a subconscious 'over protection' mechanism, and as with many phobias can also be rooted in an unresolved emotional conflict.

Learn more about the causes of phobias

Treatment for Claustrophobia

  • Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)
  • Habit strategies to relax
  • Cognitive therapy (CT)
  • In vivo exposure
  • Response prevention
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Group therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Energy Psychology
  • Medication
  • Meditation

Learn more about phobia treatments


Book Shelf

The list of books below are hand picked by the staff at Massive Phobia. It's a mixture of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Habit Strategies, Trauma Healing, Mindfulness, Meditation, Buddhist Knowledge and Somatic Study. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.