6 Things to Know About Claustrophobia

This is a disclaimer that this article/video is for informative purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Please reach out to a qualified healthcare provider or mental health professional if you are struggling.

We can all think of a time when we were in a crowded situation. Perhaps you’ve heard a friend say (or even you) that they were claustrophobic – meaning that they were uncomfortable being in a tight space. However, this particular usage of the term is incorrect and minimizes what the condition is actually like. To better learn what claustrophobia actually is, in this article, we’ll be taking a look at 6 things to know about claustrophobia.

But First, What Is Claustrophobia?

Claustrophobia is a specific phobia relating to an intense fear of small and cramped spaces. It is a type of anxiety disorder, meaning that the person experiences symptoms when exposed to a certain trigger. Symptoms include:

  • Hyperventilation
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Trembling
  • Nausea
  • Headache

(Source: WebMD 2019)

1. Claustrophobia Is Not Simply a Dislike For Small Spaces

Generally when we hear that someone is claustrophobic, it is usually refers to a simple discomfort regarding a tight space versus an actual fear. In most cases, the person claiming to be claustrophobic is not experiencing any sort of anxiety symptom other than feeling mildly uncomfortable (Renzoni 2020). 

2. Claustrophobia Is Not Just a Fear of Small Spaces Either

While phobias are based around fears surrounding a specific object, event, or situation, they are more than just a fear. Claustrophobia in particular can be highly disruptive to a person’s life. They may avoid common places and situations to get away from a tight situation. Avoiding cars, crawl spaces, or other forms of public transportation are common. This avoidance and fear is so strong that it affects the person’s ability to live a normal life (Hull 2020).

3. Claustrophobia Is More Common Than You Think

According to the RecoveryVillage, claustrophobia occurs in up to 5-7% of people (Renzoni 2020). While this is a rather small number, it’s likely that you either know or have encountered someone with the condition. 

4. Claustrophobia May Be Influenced By Genetics

While the research is still emerging, some trends have been observed with people having similar phobias to relatives. Other causes of the condition are attributed to traumatic events or other negative experiences involving tight and enclosed spaces (WebMD 2019).

5. Claustrophobia (and Other Phobias) Are Not the Result of Being Crazy

There is a common stigma attached to phobias (and mental health conditions in general) that labels people with certain conditions as “crazy.” Phobias in particular are usually the result of trauma and are, generally speaking, highly treatable. People with these conditions are not any different from anyone else (Sharma 2020). 

6. Claustrophobia Can Be Treated

Claustrophobia, like other phobias, can be treated. They often do not go away on their own and thus require the help from a medical professional. Several different therapy options are available which have high success rates. These can include exposure therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, to even medication (WebMD 2019). 

Claustrophobia is much more than a simple dislike for tight spaces. The condition is commonly used incorrectly which minimizes the very real effects it has on people with it. If you can relate to this article, it is important to reach out for help. Getting in touch with the right mental health professional is a great first step to getting your life back on track. What are your thoughts on the matter? What are your experiences? Let us know in the comments!

References:

  • Sharma, S. (2020, November 23). Debunking Common Myths About Phobias. Calm Sage – Your Guide to Mental and Emotional Well-Being. www.calmsage.com/debunking-common-myths-about-phobias/
  • Hull, M. (2020, September 16). Claustrophobia Statistics and Facts. The Recovery Village Drug and Alcohol Rehab. www.therecoveryvillage.com/mental-health/claustrophobia/claustrophobia-statistics/
  • Renzoni, C. (2020, November 4). Claustrophobia Myths. The Recovery Village Drug and Alcohol Rehab. www.therecoveryvillage.com/mental-health/claustrophobia/related/claustrophobia-myths/
  • WebMD. (2019, October 1). Claustrophobia: What Is It? www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/claustrophobia-overview#1-4

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