Claustrophobia is an anxiety disorder. The main problem is feeling an irrational fear of closed in or small spaces. People with claustrophobia often say it’s like feeling trapped without a way out. It causes you to react to certain situations. The fear of claustrophobia can be strong. But, it can be treated.
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The cause isn't well known. It's likely a mix of genes and environment.
Your chances of claustrophobia are higher for:
Claustrophobia starts when you're a child or teen. It may bring on feelings like a panic attack and cause:
You may also:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Diagnosis is based on your constant or irrational fear that may:
Claustrophobia can go away on its as you get older. If not, it can be treated by getting over your fear. This is done with:
The most common method is with counseling. It's targeted help you see and get over your fear. It will also help you control situations that start your feelings.
Your doctor may advice taking medicines. They will help you to control your feelings of panic. They are mainly used as part of counseling.
There is no way to prevent claustrophobia since the cause is unknown.
American Psychiatric Association
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Canadian Mental Health Association
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Anxiety disorders. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml. Updated July 2018. Accessed August 29, 2018.
Specific phobia. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113844/Specific-phobia . Updated June 5, 2017. Accessed September 26, 2016.
Treatment. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Available at: https://adaa.org/finding-help/treatment. Accessed August 29, 2018.
Last reviewed May 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 8/29/2018