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Claustrophobia

The fear of small and confined spaces or being trapped in such spaces is known as Claustrophobia. 5-10% of people around the world are affected by acute claustrophobia. The term Claustrophobia came from the Latin word “Claustrum: a shut-in place”. People suffering from Claustrophobia can have extreme anxiety or even panic attacks by being in a narrow space, such as lifts, tube trains, small rooms without any window, MRI machines, etc. The phobic person avoids such places which eventually fortify their fears.

Claustrophobia is one of the most common phobias. Some people require therapy to manage it while others might overcome it on its own.

Symptoms:

The following symptoms are experienced by a claustrophobic person while being in a confined space.

    • Sweating
    • Trembling
    • Dry mouth
    • Disorientation along with confusion
    • Palpitation
    • Fainting
    • Dizziness
    • Choking sensation
    • Impulse to use the bathroom
    • Troubled breathing

Cause of Claustrophobia :

 

Factors in the environment play a great role in the development of claustrophobia. People who have been through some traumatic events, such as stuck in a lift, being a hostage in a small room, experienced turbulence while flying, etc can develop claustrophobia.

Other than that it could be a learned behavior, for example, children whose parents are claustrophobic can learn it from them and feel the anxiety and symptoms their parent may have expressed.

Some studies show that it can happen because of the dysfunction of the amygdala, a part of the brain that processes fear.

Celebrities Suffering from Claustrophobia:

    • Dave Grohl

Dave had nightmares about the phobia as he said “I have crazy claustrophobic dreams, weird elevator dreams where the elevator closes in and all of a sudden I am lying down – oh my God, it’s a casket. Just freaky stuff like that,”

    • Ryan Reynolds

In 2010, Ryan confronted about being claustrophobic in his movie “Buried”. He said “Claustrophobia is a primal fear that exists within everybody. This is probably most human being’s worst nightmare come true, to be buried alive. I couldn’t help but feel that when we were shooting, we were using a coffin”.

    • Justin Bieber

Justin is afraid of small spaces and the elevator can also provoke his anxiety as mentioned in the teen vogue.

    • Kunal Nayyer

Kunal, from the famous “Big Bank Theory”, has also mentioned that he is claustrophobic and have fear of heights.

Treatment:

Whenever a person feels that the Claustrophobia is interfering in his or her daily life routines and affecting his or her social, occupational, and personal life then s/he should immediately consult a health care professional to seek help.

Claustrophobia can be treated by different therapies such as:

    • Exposure Therapy
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
    • Virtual Reality
    • Gradual Desensitization
    • Relaxation and Visualization Exercises

Some Tips to Cope with Claustrophobia:

    • Deep breathing
    • Imagine the positive outcome
    • Self-affirmation
    • Divert your attention to people or things around
    • Stop all the negative thoughts by imagining a big red stop sign
    • Start counting randomly (e.g., 2,8,20,7 etc)  to divert thoughts
    • Remember facing your fears can be a great help in overcoming them
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