Claustrophobia is an anxiety disorder. The main problem is feeling an irrational fear of closed in or small spaces. People with claustrophobia often say it’s like feeling trapped without a way out. It causes you to react to certain situations. The fear of claustrophobia can be strong. But, it can be treated.
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Claustrophobia starts when you're a child or teen. It may bring on feelings like a panic attack and cause:
- Fast heartbeat
- Fast breathing
- Problems breathing
- Lightheadedness or fainting
- Feelings of dread or terror
You may also:
- Look for exit doors when in a room
- Feel very nervous if doors are shut
- Not use elevators, subways or airplanes, or cars in heavy traffic
- Stand near exit doors in crowded places
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Diagnosis is based on your constant or irrational fear that may:
- Be started by waiting for something to happen
- Cause panic attacks linked to the fear-causing situation
- Make it hard for you to get through your day
- That is not explained by other disorders
Claustrophobia can go away on its as you get older. If not, it can be treated by getting over your fear. This is done with:
The most common method is with counseling. It's targeted help you see and get over your fear. It will also help you control situations that start your feelings.
- Learning to relax and see ways to calm the fear when you are in certain places that cause fear.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)—Changing how you react to fear when you start to feel it.
Your doctor may advice taking medicines. They will help you to control your feelings of panic. They are mainly used as part of counseling.
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.
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American Psychiatric Association https://www.psychiatry.org
Anxiety and Depression Association of America https://adaa.org
Canadian Mental Health Association https://cmha.ca
Canadian Psychiatric Association https://www.cpa-apc.org
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