skip to Main Content

Claustrophobia: The Fear of Confined Spaces

Claustrophobia, or the fear of tight and crowded spaces, is one of the most common phobias, and it can be triggered by a wide variety of scenarios. Some examples of these triggering situations can include riding on a crowded elevator, driving through heavy traffic, being in a windowless room, or even riding on an airplane. I myself have claustrophobia of airplanes. Each time, even the thought of going on one gives me such anxiety from the moment I press “booked” to the point of no return. For weeks I will think of being stuck and how I can’t get off the plane. A lot of people find it hard to believe that I’m not scared of crashing because I almost rather crash knowing there is a possibility of living than being stuck thousands of feet in the air and NOT being able to get off. I know there is no way that I can ask the pilot to land and that is a real fear I can’t seem to get past. I feel the symptoms of claustrophobia are quite similar to what a panic attack would feel like. Sweating, shaking, chest tightness, nausea, intense anxiety, hyperventilation, or even feeling disoriented and not feeling grounded.

Now, where does claustrophobia originate from? Claustrophobia traces the fear back to traumatic events in their past. Some examples can include being trapped in a closet for an extended period, being abused/bullied, or even being stuck on a crowded subway, and even seeing a loved one experience it. It is almost like a type of classical conditioning. Claustrophobia is passed on between generations because we see adults act in fear, so we associate those negative emotions and carry on the phobia!

Claustrophobia is very common, yet it varies significantly from patient to patient.  The phobia is treatable with psychotherapy, though many people outgrow it as they grow older.  CBT Therapy is used to identify unhelpful thought patterns, and learning to replace them with more adaptive ways of thinking about these situations. This type of psychotherapy (talk therapy) focuses on managing your phobia by changing the way you think, feel and behave.

  • Discuss your symptoms and describe how you feel.
  • Explore your phobia more deeply to gain an understanding of how
    to respond.
  • Learn how to recognize, reevaluate and change your thinking.
  • Use problem-solving skills to learn how to cope.
  • Face your phobia instead of avoiding it.
  • Learn how to keep your mind and body calm.
Back To Top