Posted on: November 26, 2008 Posted by: Nicole Harding Comments: 2

Do you ever feel trapped, caught, or panicky when you find yourself in a small space? Don’t stress if you have—this often happens to all sorts of different people around the world. Claustrophobia is one of the most universal phobias or anxiety disorders there is.

The reasons behind phobias such as this one include a combination of life experience and genetic vulnerability. These feelings are often tied to childhood events that proved overly traumatic. Anyone who often feels anxious is at risk of developing their anxiety into a phobia. Getting rid of a fear of confined spaces isn’t easy, but it’s certainly possible to do so. Read this article for some effective solutions!

1. Know the symptoms

You might have a pretty good indication that you have a fear of confined spaces, but there are always ways for you to check.

If you are experiencing shaking, nausea, sweating, fainting, accelerated heart rate, hyperventilation or over-breathing, a lightheaded sensation, or a fear that you will actually be hurt or fall ill, these are all common claustrophobia indicators.

2. Recognize the reactions

The behaviours of someone with claustrophobia aren’t always normal. If this is starting to affect daily activities, there might be a bigger problem at hand. Try recognizing behaviours that you see in certain circumstances:

Sometimes a claustrophobic person enters a room and immediately looks for all of the possible exits so they can put themselves at ease and find an exit quickly if they need to.

Claustrophobic people tend to avoid using elevators, because these are naturally small spaces. They will take the stairs instead, and not because they are trying to get some exercise.

At parties, you might find a claustrophobic person very close to the nearest exit, even if the party isn’t very busy.

People with claustrophobia are often anxious, and they will try some sort of coping strategy to reduce the possibility of an anxiety attack. Relying on avoidance of the problem can actually make it worse, as it turns out, so this can be an issue. Anticipating a small space can actually make that experience feel worse than it really is.

3. Getting rid of fears of confined spaces

Dealing with these anxiety fears tied to claustrophobia will take some work. You likely can’t just talk to a therapist and find yourself cured. Talking with them will certainly help you, but it’s not a perfect solution.

The most important way to get rid of a fear of confined spaces is to face this fear directly. Most people who aren’t claustrophobic won’t understand this at all, but those who do truly know how difficult this is. Make sure you find friends and family that are willing to help you on your journey.

4. Counter-conditioning

It’s usually best to start with a more indirect approach to dealing with this fear. Counter-conditioning requires patients to use specific relation and visualization techniques when they are experiencing phobia-related anxiety. Phobia triggers are gradually introduced, and the person builds towards a higher tolerance.

Patients eventually begin to endure and face the fear head on. It can be expensive, and you will need patience and time to do so. Don’t rush the process! Counter-conditioning should be helpful; it shouldn’t be torture.

5. Modeling behaviours

It can be very helpful for two people looking to get rid of their fear of confined spaces to work together. Usually, one of the people should be further along in the process for best results.

Basically, the person who needs a little more work in their confidence watches the other person confront their phobia head on. Doing so without fear can help give a strong boost in confidence to the other individual. You’re in it together, after all!

Modeling requires good preparation and the right people—and it can’t be faked, either. Be careful with this step, because a failure for the person to face their phobia can prove even more damaging to the intended audience.

6. Cognitive behaviour therapy

It’s important to recognize the possible triggers of claustrophobia, and deal with them head on. The person dealing with claustrophobia should try to confront them so they can help change their attitudes that led to this fear. Once again, you should not force this process, but you learned this behaviour at the end of the day—it can be unlearned as well.

7. Flooding tactics

Of course, a classic sign of confined space fears comes when that space seems to get smaller and smaller. So many people experiencing these symptoms haven’t actually experienced a situation where they were subject to their fears being realized, and this can actually be more damaging than good.

Helping someone see that they will come out ok is one of the best ways for them to get over their fear. Using water is a powerful form of therapy to do so, but you can try using confined spaces as well. Don’t drown the person, of course! Trust this method to the professionals for the best results.

8. Find the right medications

It seems like there are entire pharmacies dedicated to anti-anxiety medication! There are lots of natural and man-made options out there for you to try. Sometimes the person in question needs to combine medications with various other solutions.

Tranquilizers and anti-depressants are drugs known as beta blockers. They work by treating the physical symptoms of anxiety, which were discussed earlier in this article. They can help get rid of a pounding heart, for instance.

Always be careful with medication—make sure that everything you use was proscribed by a doctor who is well aware of your specific symptoms, medical history, and general background. You don’t want an unexpected allergic reaction on your hands! That would never do.

Remember that medicine is not a crutch. It is part of an overall treatment strategy, and you should not rely on it to fix all of your problems.

Getting rid of a fear of confined spaces can take days, weeks, months, and even years in some cases. There is no timeframe for a patient getting better—it always varies on a case-by-case basis. The person in question will need a lot of courage to get over their fear. Don’t think of it as a weakness, but as a temporary setback that you are working to overcome. Try overcoming your thoughts of always settling into worst-case scenarios. Get your life back, and live without all of that restlessness and paranoia!

Always remember to consult an expert before attempting any of these solutions. Always do what is best for you, and don’t push yourself and accidentally make the phobia worse than it is.

2 People reacted on this

  1. I suffer from claustrophobia and went i encounter small spaces i try to talk my self out of it. Think i will be out in 5 seconds, i will get out saftely. Just try to think positive and it should be ok x

  2. I suffer from claustrophobia .i want to travel by plane but it holds me back,my bus transportation is the same I think I can’t breathe and I’m looking for a window to open to think that there’s away out and I get through it on a bus ,and that’s on a good day .As a passenger in a 2 door vehicle I sit in the front always so I can have access to the window .it sucksss

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