Open Doors By Overcoming Your Fear of Claustrophobia


Claustrophobia is perhaps one of the most well-known and most crippling disorders out there. It affects people professionally and personally in the most common of situations.

Imagine trying to knock out of a park a new client pitch when you feel like the walls of the room are closing in on you, or enjoying a family trip to a theme park when you can’t enjoy half of the rides. Try living in a place like New York City when the mere thought of riding an elevator makes you sweaty and nauseous.

Living with claustrophobia is more than just stressful – at times, it’s downright paralyzing. And, unfortunately, it causes many of life’s activities and experiences to be more than just uncomfortable or inconvenient – it causes them to be impossible and terrifying.

Claustrophobia seeps into every aspect of life, both personal and professional. It makes sufferers miss out on life experiences and daily conveniences, but it also can hold them back professionally due to an inability to participate in meetings that occur in small spaces and other important office activities.

No one should have to life in fear – learn to move past your fear of claustrophobia and to open doors to new opportunities.

Exploring Claustrophobia

Claustrophobia is a fear of small, enclosed spaces. Though each sufferer experiences the effects of this paralyzing phobia differently, many feel as though the walls are closing in on them when they are in closed spaces or are fearful of becoming entrapped in that space. Others cite feeling as though the air supply is lacking and that they will suffocate.

Many activities that much of the population would consider a part of life are made impossible for claustrophobia sufferers to enjoy. For example, elevators are often a strict no-go, as are things like crawl spaces, airplanes, or small and crowded rooms – as are often found in not only homes, but business meetings or networking events. Sufferers are unlikely to be able to enjoy adventures, such as spelunking or scuba diving. Many cannot ride roller coasters.

Claustrophobia goes beyond simply fearing these activities and spaces – sufferers experience physical side effects, just some of which include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea
  • Increased heart rate
  • Perspiration
  • Dizziness

Researchers do not yet know the exact causes of claustrophobia, but doctors and psychologists have found roots in both physical and psychological causes. Physically, doctors have found the amygdala, a small structure in the brain that controls fear, to be smaller in people that have fear and panic disorders, such as claustrophobia. Psychologically, professionals have found that many sufferers experience claustrophobia as a result of conditioning experienced earlier in their lives. For example, a child locked in a small space might later manifest that fear as claustrophobia. Other negative life experiences might include being in a small dark space, unable to find the light switch or getting a limb stuck in a fence and not being able to escape it. There are countless scenarios that might influence one’s propensity for claustrophobia.

Overcoming Claustrophobia

Because claustrophobia is a deeply rooted phobia, it can be quite difficult to conquer – however, it is possible.

Most patients treat claustrophobia via psychotherapy that utilizes any number of techniques and tools. Systematic desensitization, flooding, and the Stop! Techniques are all popular methods, though there are many others out there that have produced successful results, such as the explorative work being done in immersive virtual reality.

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