Emotional and Mental Health

Claustrophobia: Fear of Confined Spaces

Written by
Dr. Vasantha K S
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

16 Jul 2019  -  2 min read



Are you afraid of being unable to escape from a small room or space? It is a type of anxiety disorder, which can be effectively managed and treated over time.

Claustrophobia: Fear of Confined Spaces

Claustrophobia is a fear of any small and closed area. Someone with claustrophobia experiences anxiety triggered due to irrational thoughts of being confined in a small enclosed space with no alternate escape route.


  1. Feeling anxious in enclosed spaces.
  2. Avoiding the elevator and taking the stairs instead.
  3. Staying close to the exit when in a small room.

The typical symptoms exhibited by the person are:

  • Excessive perspiration.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Palpitations.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Tightness of chest.
  • Nausea.
  • Headache.
  • Dry mouth.

Common Triggers

  • Locked cars.
  • Tunnels.
  • Changing rooms.
  • Airplanes.
  • Trains.
  • Elevators.
  • Small rooms with no windows.
  • Sometimes, even tight clothing.


Perception of space: A recent study revealed that people with claustrophobia sensed objects to be nearer than they actually are, and this caused them to react more severely to small spaces.

Genetics: Having a parent with claustrophobia increased one's chance of having the same.

Size of the amygdala (a part of the brain): Another study has concluded that the size of a part of a brain influenced how we dealt with anxiety-triggering situations.

Childhood trauma: Experiencing the feeling of being trapped in a room as a child might cause the phobia later in life.

Prepared phobia: This is an evolutionary process, where our brains are prepared to help us escape from certain life-threatening situations although it is no longer applicable in our society.


  1. Cognitive behavior therapy.
  2. Exposure therapy.
  3. Medication.

How to Cope During Episodes

- Take deep breaths, and count from 10 to 1.

- Distract yourself with other interesting thoughts.

- Reassure yourself that this is a temporary feeling and it will pass.

- Meditation and yoga will help in the long run with learning to control negative thoughts.

Claustrophobia can be treated, and many people gradually grow over their fears by repeatedly being exposed to the stimulus, or naturally with age. If you have claustrophobia for more than six months and it is crippling your daily life, it is time to seek help from a specialist who deals with phobias and experienced in providing the right type of therapy for your condition.

For more information consult a phobia specialist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/psychologist-counsellor/phobia

Last reviewed at:
16 Jul 2019  -  2 min read



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