General Knowledge

What is Claustrophobia? Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Claustrophobia is a fear of confined spaces. It can be triggered in many situations such as lifts, caves, windowless rooms, hotel rooms with closed-door/sealed rooms, etc. These often result in panic attacks which a claustrophobic person can show when he gets into this situation.

It is said that around 5-10% of the population suffers from severe claustrophobia and a small percentage of people suffer from mild claustrophobia which can be treated. Claustrophobia is taken from Greek and Latin words where Claustrum in Latin means ‘Shut-in Place’ and Phobos in Greek means ‘Fear’.

Symptoms of Claustrophobia

The Symptoms that a claustrophobic person might show when he is in the type of environment include

  • Excessive sweat/ chills.
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dizziness, fainting spells, nausea, lightheadedness
  • Hyperventilation
  • Trembling with fear
  • A choking sensation
  • Difficulty to breathe
  • Getting afraid to step forward or trying to escape.

Causes for Claustrophobia

The cause for Claustrophobia is still not determined, however, it is to be noted that as per research on this phobia, some of the causes might be due to

1. Amygdala: A small structure in the brain that is needed to generate a fear response. A study has found that the right amygdala of patients who suffer from panic disorder is small which might be the reason for a person to be Claustrophobic or any other form of phobias.

2. A patient might experience claustrophobia due to their past experiences which might be caused due to getting locked in a dark space, locked in a closet, getting stuck in the lift, fallen into a pit getting risked of getting out or might have stayed a hotel room which does not have windows. This might have made a person scared during his growing years.

3. A person might also get feared of getting stuck and cannot get out were examples such as getting into an MRI machine to get checked up, a person entering a cave and finds it difficult to get out or a person getting stuck in a mine, etc.

Treatment for Claustrophobia

Similar to other types of Phobias even Claustrophobia can be treated using the following diagnosis

a) Therapy: A person can attend individual or group therapy classes that will be conducted where they use a method called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which exposes the patients to all possible situations or objects.

b) Relaxing technique is another method where one can relax by taking meditation classes, deep breath, and trying to concentrate on positive can help overcome the phobia.

c) Drug Therapy: using drugs like antidepressants and relaxants can help a person to slowly reduce the phobias. However, these drugs should be taken under prescription.

d) Relaxation exercises: By doing meditation or by doing deep breathe, one can deal with the phobia.

e) Use of alternate medicine: This can be done in a calm environment where one is in the midst of nature or the use of calming essential oils can help to reduce the phobia.

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