Claustrophobia – the Fear of Enclosed Spaces

Claustrophobia or the fear of enclosed spaces is one of the most common phobias, another way of looking at it may be ‘the fear of not having an easy or accessible escape route’ because for anyone who experiences claustrophobia this is the overwhelming and most predominating feature. A person who suffers from claustrophobia may panic when inside any confined spaces such as in lifts, on the underground, on planes, in crowded rooms, at concerts or middle seats of cinemas or theatres.

As with most phobias we don’t choice to be claustrophobic and there will be a root cause for the claustrophobia and discovering this, addressing the cause and then developing new ways and manners of being in those situations will enable people to move on. Hypnotherapy, NLP and positive psychology are all excellent at addressing phobias and often surprisingly quickly.

Something traumatic happened to the claustrophobic when a child, maybe you saw an adult being scared of an animal or spider and at that young and impressionable age thought ‘that little crawly thing must be so scary because my mum is scared of it’ or maybe being shut in a dark room, trapped during a childhood game or by another child not knowing how it would affect you later on.

Phobias are often, actually usually childhood fears that were never outgrown, we didn’t choice them and they will nearly always have a root cause or a small number of incidents which have imprinted on the memory and carried forward into adulthood. Sometimes people are aware of the reason for their phobia and sometimes not, or the memory has been forgotten an in some cases it can be a little complicated how our unconscious mind has connected things together. Even though rationally it doesn’t make sense to have the fear, there seems to be something else happening, which there is and this will be deeper in the unconscious mind.


Symptoms of claustrophobia appear following a trigger for the phobia, such as being in a closed room or a crowded space. What you consider a small space can vary depending on the severity of your phobia.

When experiencing symptoms of claustrophobia, you may feel like you’re having a panic attack. Symptoms of claustrophobia can include:

  • sweating
  • trembling
  • hot flashes
  • feeling intense fear or panic
  • becoming anxious
  • shortness of breath
  • hyperventilation
  • rapid heartbeat
  • chest tightness or pain
  • nausea
  • feeling faint or lightheaded
  • feeling confused or disorientated

These symptoms can be mild or severe. If you’re claustrophobic, you may also:

  • avoid triggering situations, such as riding in airplanes, subways, elevators, or in cars during heavy traffic
  • automatically and compulsively look for the exits in every space you enter
  • feel scared that the doors will shut while you’re in a room
  • stand near or directly by the exits while in a crowded place

Many situations can trigger claustrophobia. Triggers may include:

  • being in a small room without windows
  • riding in an airplane or small car
  • being in a packed elevator
  • undergoing a MRI or CT scan
  • standing in a large, but crowded room, like at a party or concert
  • standing in a closet

Other places that can trigger claustrophobia include:

  • public restrooms
  • car washes
  • revolving doors
  • store dressing rooms
  • caves or crawl spaces
  • tunnels

Your claustrophobia symptoms may be triggered by other situations not mentioned above. You may also define a small or confined space differently from other people. This is because people have their own unique sense of personal or “near” space. A 2011 study found that people with larger “near” spaces surrounding their body are more likely to feel claustrophobic when that circle is breached. So if your personal space is six feet, and someone is standing four feet away from you, you may begin to panic.

Claustrophobia as defined by Healthline – HERE

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