The definition of claustrophobia is:
An uncomfortable feeling caused by being in a situation that limits or restricts you; the fear of being enclosed in a tight space.
It is considered an anxiety disorder. There are a couple of causes:
Genetics- basically you are born with it and it takes a particular event to bring it to light.
Classic conditioning- events of confined areas eventually develop into a “disorder”. A child may develop the condition at a young age. Being left alone in a vehicle, accidentally being in an elevator alone or an older sibling locking them in a closet.
Amygdala- the fight or flight response. It is a very small part of the brain. It is thought that panic disorders and phobias are caused by this particular part of the brain.
A few symptoms of claustrophobia
Persons suffering from it have a fear of suffocating and of restriction. The feelings they have are:
- increased sweating
- heart beats faster
- irrational thoughts of escaping at any cost
- vision is affected.
It is somewhat an irrational fear or rather when someone starts to feel claustrophobic all rational thought goes away. For example, a person could be in a room with windows and a door, but if someone covers the windows and closes the door, the individual may become very uncomfortable and start to panic. The feeling of panic is a strong indicator that a person suffers from claustrophobia.
Did you know that 5-7% of the world’s population suffers from this condition?
There are many areas that may trigger an anxiety attack such as:
- Vessels (such as boilers) in the industrial world
- Underground Caves
Do you want to get over it? Here are a few ways:
Cognitive therapy- convincing the individual that the fears are irrational and the confined space is actually a good thing. ie a closet isn’t that bad, it’s a good place to store things.
Invivo exposure- immersing the individual in what scares them. ie exposing an individual to a confined space until they are used to it.
Interoceptive exposure- recreating the feeling of the confined space but in a controlled area. Not actually in a confined space.
Medication- for anxiety is also prescribed.
A phobia is a very real condition. It can cause panic attacks and very real physical symptoms. Fortunately, the individual can either avoid confined spaces or seek the help of a doctor or psychologist for assistance.
If you have comments or questions, please share them I would love to hear from you.