What is Claustrophobia? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

Some people are fearful of closed spaces. Today, we’ll discuss what is claustrophobia; its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is Claustrophobia? 

Claustrophobia is a form of anxiety disorder that causes high fearful feelings of enclosed spaces. If you have got upsetting and nervous feelings in tight and closed spaces like a crowded room or an elevator, it means that you would have claustrophobia.

When some people are there in all types of closed-up areas and spaces, they exhibit the symptoms of claustrophobia. Others would only experience the problem when they’re in a particular type of cramped space like MRI machines.

It doesn’t matter whatever type of claustrophobia you’re experiencing. You can manage its symptoms if you treat it at the right time.

Symptoms of Claustrophobia 

The symptoms of claustrophobia are different for various types of people. The anxiety attack would vary from mild nervousness to a full-blown panic attack. In order to diagnose an anxiety attack as phobia, it should severe enough to impact the routine functions of your daily life. Some of the main symptoms of claustrophobia in the closed spaces are as follows;

  • Illness and harmful feelings
  • Strong urges to use the bathroom
  • Sensation of choking
  • Numbness
  • Headaches
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Pain and chest tightness
  • Hyperventilation
  • Hot flashes
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sweating
  • Speedy heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath

You would have the feelings and sensation of doom like the world is going to an end or you’ll be dying. It could be frightening and scary feelings if you aren’t going through a dangerous situation. However, you would realize that you can’t stop the fear because it isn’t real or rational.

The duration of a panic attack ranges from 5 to 30 minutes. You would experience tightness or chest pain along with the symptoms of sweating, shortness of breath, or heart attack in severe cases. If you don’t know whether you have a heart problem or anxiety, then you should consult with a professional.  

Triggering Factors 

Some of the factors that would trigger the claustrophobic symptoms are as follows;

  • Standing in the closet
  • Standing in the crowded places like concerts or party
  • CT scan and undergoing an MRI
  • Being there in the packed elevator
  • Traveling in an airplane or riding a small car
  • A small room without any windows

Some of the other factors that would trigger claustrophobia are as follows;

  • Tunnels
  • Crawl spaces or caves
  • Dressing rooms in the stores
  • Revolving doors
  • Car washing stations
  • Public restrooms

There could be some other types of closed spaces that may cause you claustrophobic symptoms that we haven’t mentioned above. The definition criteria of small and closed spaces would be different for different people because various people have got their own unique idea of personal space.

A study conducted in 2011 showed that people with the near spaces relevant to their body, and would feel claustrophobic symptoms after breaching its circle. The circle of the personal space could be 6 feet away or 4 feet from their body where they’re standing. They would feel threatened if you cross the circle.

Causes of Claustrophobia 

Researchers don’t know the exact causes of claustrophobic symptoms. Environmental factors play a significant role in developing this condition. Usually, people develop this condition in their early childhood. It may happen due to the dysfunction in the amygdala, and the amygdala is a part of the brain that regulates how you process fear. Some of the traumatic events that would cause it are as follows;

  • Being left in places like accidents, closets, or tight spaces
  • Stuck in the crowded public transport areas
  • Receiving punishment of being locked in closed spaces like bathrooms or small room
  • Feeling turbulence while flying
  • Being stuck in the closed and tight spaces for a long period of time

If your parents or any of the family members have a claustrophobic condition, you’re at the risk of developing this condition. If a child is fearful of the small spaces, then they would attach fear with the closed spaces and feel the same throughout their life.

Treatment of Claustrophobia

There are various types of treatment plans that your doctor would recommend to treat the symptoms of claustrophobia. Some of them are as follows;


Antianxiety and antidepressants are the type of medicines that your doctor would suggest to deal with the physical and panic symptoms of the claustrophobic condition.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is a very good approach to dealing with the symptoms of phobia and anxiety. Your doctor would expose you to the non-dangerous environment that triggers your fearful responses, and the therapist teaches you how to deal with it in a healthier way.

Visualization & Relaxation

It teaches you to calm down your mind and visualize a good place while experiencing and dealing with a claustrophobic situation. It comprises exercises of calming down your mind reverse counting and other techniques.

REBT (rational emotive behavioral therapy)

REBT is an actionable approach to CBT, and it focuses on unhealthy behaviors, emotions, disputing irrational beliefs, and attitudes. It teaches them to develop healthy and realistic alternatives.

Conclusion: What is Claustrophobia? Symptoms, causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is claustrophobia; its symptoms, causes, and treatment; we’ve realized that claustrophobic conditions could badly impact your life. If you’re experiencing its symptoms, then you should consult with the therapist in your area.