Claustrophobia – Meaning, Causes, Symptoms And Treatment.

What exactly is claustrophobia?

The word “claustrophobia” is derived from two words, “Claustrum” (which means “A shut in place” in Latin) and “Phobos” (which means “Fear” in Greek).  Claustrophobia can be defined as “Abnormal, morbid, intense and irrational fear of confined, closed or narrow spaces.  It is an anxiety disorder.  Person suffering from claustrophobia panics when inside places like elevator, small room, narrow lane, garage, etc.  The fear is focused on not being able to escape or not having enough oxygen to breath.  Around 5 percent of the world population suffer from this anxiety disorder.  

Causes of claustrophobia

Experts have not been able to arrive at exact factors which cause claustrophobia.  It has still remained a challenge.  It is generally believed that claustrophobia may be caused by a traumatic experience involving confined spaces (like getting trapped in a closet).  When the person encounters similar situations after this experience, they often trigger panic attacks.  This is because a program would be formed in the brain which would have associated enclosed space with anxiety.  As a result of this program, the person becomes claustrophobic.

Symptoms of claustrophobia

When a person affected by claustrophobia finds himself/herself in an enclosed space, he/she may display some of the following symptoms:

  • Increased heartbeat (palpitations).

  • Shaking.

  • Light headedness.

  • Dry mouth. The affected person feel thirsty. 

  • Breathlessness or sometimes hyperventilation (breathing faster and / or deeper than normal.

  • Excessive sweating.

  • Inability to think clearly.

  • Unclear speech.

  • Fainting.

  • Nausea.

  • Fear of imminent physical harm.

These symptoms vary in degree in different persons affected by claustrophobia.

Treatment of claustrophobia

There is no one treatment for claustrophobia.  Doctors generally use a combination of medication (anti – depressants, beta – blockers, etc), exposure therapy (flooding, counter – conditioning), regression hypnotherapy and behavior therapy.  Treatment depends on the condition of the patient. 

There have been cases where claustrophobia has been cured.  Advances in the field of medicine has made it possible.  If you or any one you know are displaying symptoms of claustrophobia, it is very important that you take assistance of a mental health expert as soon as possible.  Ignoring this anxiety disorder can cause further complications.



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