What is Claustrophobia?

Meaning and Concept of Claustrophobia

Claustrophobia is a common fear. When people have this phobia, they get anxious or panic when they are in closed spaces. What can be defined as a closed space is different depending on the person with this phobia.

They could include elevators, small rooms (such as medical exam rooms) with closed doors, cars stuck in traffic, or other situations.

Like most phobias, claustrophobia is irrational and usually cannot be cured by rational thought. Even if a person knows that the enclosed space is not dangerous, he may panic when he is in that space.

Someone who suffers from claustrophobia may fear the confined space of an elevator.

Claustrophobia symptoms arise when a person is in a closed space. These could include feelings of restlessness, anxiety, sweating, crying, panic attacks, or increased heart or breathing rates.

Some people feel that they cannot breathe properly in closed spaces and are deeply anxious to get out of them as quickly as possible.

People can feel claustrophobic when dealing with large crowds.

Those who suffer from minor claustrophobia may be able to manage the condition on their own. They would choose to take the stairs instead of taking an elevator.

They may ask for an open cubicle at work instead of a small closed office. Others find that the condition is much more than manageable and may require treatment to overcome.

Having the option of working in an open cubicle can help ease the discomfort of claustrophobia you suffer from.

Most treatments for phobias follow a similar path. To address feelings of panic, when true panic attacks occur, a psychiatrist may prescribe anti-anxiety medications.

These are commonly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or a group of tranquilizers called benzodiazepines, which includes drugs like Xanax® and Valium®. This is only half the battle because these drugs do nothing to address the fears that create claustrophobia.

Large malls can feel claustrophobic during shopping seasons.

The other part of treatment is counseling, usually desensitization therapy. Counselors might first seek to identify when the fear arose, although this may not always be known.

They can then work with the claustrophobic person by gradually helping them get used to being in smaller spaces while feeling safe at the same time.

Another counseling method that may work for people with claustrophobia is cognitive behavioral therapy.

Those with this condition may find that they must avoid so many activities that life becomes difficult to live normally.

This is why treatment for the condition is so important. However, many people have at least mild claustrophobia and feel terrified or worried when they are in small, enclosed spaces.

The size of the space is not always that important; sometimes the fear is more focused on the fact that the person feels trapped or locked up. Even in a large shopping mall with few windows, a person with significant claustrophobia may feel confined and restricted.

Fortunately, treatment for this condition is often very effective. It can gradually help the person to overcome the fear of confinement.

In the meantime, while therapy is in progress, drug treatment can help make panic symptoms more manageable.

Claustrophobia can cause panic attacks.

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