The cause of claustrophobia is not known. It may be a mix of genes and environment.

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk of claustrophobia are:

  • Family members with claustrophobia
  • Other mental health problems, such as anxiety



Claustrophobia starts during the child or teen years.

Problems may be:

  • Sweating
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Fast breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Shaking
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Nausea
  • Feelings of dread or terror

A person may also:

  • Look for exit doors when in a room
  • Feel very nervous if doors are shut
  • Not use elevators, subways, or airplanes
  • Not travel in a car in heavy traffic
  • Stand near exit doors in crowded places


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. There are no specific tests to diagnose claustrophobia. A physical exam may be done.



Claustrophobia may go away on its own. Others may need treatment to manage the fear. Options are:


There are no known guidelines to prevent claustrophobia.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.