Posted on 18 Comments

Claustrophobia — Overcome The Crippling Fear!

Mental Health matters
Claustrophobia, some practical ways to cope with the fear and anxiety. Phobia, Claustrophobia, Anxiety, Fear, Feeling of dread, Terror
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”
— Louisa May Alcott

Practical ways to cope with the fear and panic

Fear is a predator! If it senses any chink in the armor it will pounce!

Claustrophobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It is characterized by the fear of and avoidance of confined spaces.

As a person who knows what it feels like to wrestle with this dreaded evil, I utilize some practical ways of subduing this beast without the use of medicine.

In many of my day-to-day activities, I am forced to use the elevator at my place of work. The thought of having to use an elevator causes my heart rate to accelerate and beads of sweat on my brow. If there is someone else in the elevator with me I can handle the anxiety better.

When I find myself alone in that elevator fear begins to unfurl on the inside creating a tornado of anxiety, with the potential to leave nothing but debris in its wake.

It feels like a tomb and I fear the doors will never reopen.

I imagine my co-workers finding me in a whimpering heap on the floor of the elevator. Not a comforting thought in my position.

I will go to any lengths to avoid the triggers unless there is no other recourse.

Photo by Heidi Fin on Unsplash

The manifestation

Phobias generally develop during childhood or our teenage years and manifest by the avoidance of small and confined spaces. Phobias create the belief that ‘something awful’ will happen if you remain in that situation. Your flight or fight response is activated with physical symptoms such as: —

  1. dry mouth
  2. Sweaty palms
  3. Nausea
  4. Wobbly legs
  5. Pressure in the head
  6. Getting hot or cold
  7. Racing heart
  8. The feeling of dread or terror

Your thinking becomes clouded and you are consumed with one thought — ‘I’ve got to get out!’.

Emotionally, the person feels great fear and trepidation and has a sense of dread and doom.

Photo by Melanie Brown on Unsplash

How is it diagnosed?

Claustrophobia is characterized in one of four ways.

Though a definitive cause is not known, many people who experience claustrophobia may find its origins stem from a single incident or trauma. They may experience symptoms from getting trapped in an elevator, locked in a cupboard by a sibling, etc., which triggered their anxiety. Some other etiologies may be:-

  1. A traumatic birth event
  2. A learned behavior
  3. The result of a difficult life situation
  4. A symptom of generalized anxiety disorder

Claustrophobia, Phobias, Fear, Deep breathe, Distraction, Calm

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Ways I cope with the dread:

  1. Always have my charged cell phone with me.
  2. I pray to calm my mind.
  3. I try to ride with others.
  4. Find something interesting to read/listen to on the ride up and down.
  5. Think calming thoughts, (go to your happy place).
  6. I take the stairs if at all possible.
  7. Locate exit doors in a room
  8. Medication is always an available option as well.

Final thoughts

I cannot pinpoint the origins of my phobia. The only causative factor for me could be birth trauma. According to a traumatic birth could result in a “body memory”. A “body memory” is an innate consciousness in the construction of different short-term body images and provides real-time information about the posture and location of our bodies.

My mom recalls mine was a long and difficult labor. Perhaps being stuck in the birth canal could be a possible cause of the anxiety disorder.

Whatever its origins, one option is to try to recognize the triggers and manage them before they become a full-blown issue. Employ the above strategies and try to calm yourself as much as you can. Have your cellular device with you at all times and try to engage yourself in something interesting.

I feel that having my cell with me enables me to at least call for help and not feel so helpless or alone.

I employ these strategies, pray that the elevator ride goes quickly, and breathe a sigh of relief as the door begins to open.

Please feel free to share any tips you use in coping with fear and panic.

Thank you for reading.


18 thoughts on “Claustrophobia — Overcome The Crippling Fear!

  1. Hi Pene – Thanks for sharing this valuable post, and including coping strategies.

    I become anxious in a cluttered environment – having too much stuff around stresses me.

    I cope with this by living a minimalist lifestyle with white walls and lots of windows. 🤗⚘

    1. I dislike dark houses/spaces, each day I wake up and throw open my windows, but never made the co-relation until your answer. A light bulb moment here. Thank you.

      1. Thanks, Pene. 🤗

  2. I’m so sorry you have a phobia you have to deal with daily. It sounds like you’ve developed good coping skills. I’m somewhat claustrophobic, but not to the extent you are.

    1. Thank you, I have always had it, but the elevator thing has gotten worse and I have no explanation as to why.

  3. Prayer and going to my happy/safe place (in my mind) help me. Elevators I am ok with, I don’t like to be in large crowds. Which usually are easy to avoid. I like your coping mechanisms. 🌼🌺

    1. Thank you. large crowds I avoid if i can help it too, lol.

  4. It is so difficult having claustrophobia. I had an autistic client that was so bad with it that she couldn’t even close a bathroom door even in public. It sounds like you have found some good coping skills.

    1. Yes I do. But that client being unable to even close the door in public, that is severe. I hope they found some coping skills.

      1. With autism it is even more difficult. I would block the door and keep people away and when it wasn’t possible I went in with her and held the door open just a crack so she could see it wasn’t closed. I did whatever would work for her.

        1. Thank you for being so kind. I’m sure she appreciated your efforts.

  5. Great post Pene❣️Kind and helpful.

    I cannot imagine living with claustrophobia. 🥲
    My prayers go out for those held captive by this ❤️❤️❤️

    1. It is a tough to live, Thank you for your kindness.

      1. ❤️🤗🥰

  6. Thank you for sharing, I learnt a lot from this post. I knew about claustrophobia before, but not about it’s causes or ways to combat it.

    1. I appreciate you reading. Thank you.

  7. coping strategies are so valuable to me

    1. Good to hear.

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