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.

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' and the word 'phobia' comes from the Greek word ‘phóbos’ meaning 'fear.'

If you have this phobia, you most likely have one of these phobias too ›

Symptoms of Claustrophobia

  • Extreme Anxiety, Dread

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Confusion / Inability to Articulate Clearly
  • Lack of Focus
  • Irritability
  • Shaking
  • Feelings of Powerlessness
  • Obsession with the Subject of the Phobia
  • Fear or Feelings of Losing Control
  • Avoidance Behavior
  • Headaches

Learn more about phobia symptoms ›

Causes of Claustrophobia

Claustrophobia is a social anxiety disorder. Social phobias result in the avoidance of social situations due to fear of being embarrassed in public. Such phobias affect men and women equally. Extreme social anxieties often start in childhood or adolescence due to social traumas or embarrassments 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”, 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, seeing something in the news, on TV, or in the movies.

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

Claustrophobia develops as the association of close spaces with imminent danger and some theories suggest that it could be an evolutionary phobia—meaning that the fear of small spaces could have some evolutionary benefit.

Learn more about the causes of phobias ›

Treatments 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 ›

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