Claustrophobia is part of a wide array of phobias.

It is a mental disorder that totally harms the lives of those who suffer from it. We spend most of our lives in closed spaces: at work, at home, when studying, during our leisure activities, etc. Therefore, a person who feels an existential fear of being in closed spaces might have a very serious problem and is unable to conduct a proper and normative life. Fear of airplanes and flights, of a small room, of sitting next to a window when it is closed, of being in an office or a toilet- these are all categories of Claustrophobia.

What is Claustrophobia exactly? Can the disorder be treated without having to take medications or needing medical equipment?

What is Claustrophobia?

Claustrophobia is a mental disorder, belonging to the category of phobias. In general, it is a fear of being inside closed spaces of various kinds, such as fear of flights, of sitting in a classroom, riding a train or a vehicle, being in a shelter, a tunnel, a stairway, an elevator, and even a fear of sitting between two people, etc.

The fear of being inside a closed space is so varied since throughout our lives we stay inside such places on a daily basis. A person who suffers from Claustrophobia is frightened of being in a closed space that he or she may not be able to exit, and as a result, might suffocate and die. This explains the deep-seated fear and existential anxiety of this person. Such anxiety greatly limits the life of the person suffering from it, and in many cases, this person may feel miserable and helpless due to the avoidance of closed spaces which he or she considers dangerous. It is important to know that a person’s presence in a closed space, or when one thinks about such a situation and fears it, arouse the same fear that might quickly develop into an anxiety attack.

Risk factors

  • A traumatic event.
  • A parent who has a fear of closed spaces.
  • A relative who suffers from Claustrophobia.
  • An unnegotiable requirement to enter a closed place.
  • A closed place that has no visible and clear escape route.


Claustrophobia can have many causes. Following are the main ones:

  • Heredity– one of the causes of Claustrophobia is a genetic element that is hereditary, so another close relative likely has some kind of anxiety, or even Claustrophobia specifically. Sometimes children even “imitate” a fear the parent has and adopt the behaviors they see in their home. It is, therefore, possible that the child was handed down the trauma from his parents and has no real basis for the disorder.
  • A traumatic event– a person who experienced an event in the past that left him or her with the memory of a trauma, might develop Claustrophobia, even years after the event.
  • No clear cause– many people who suffer from Claustrophobia, develop it without an apparent or certain reason. In such cases, the treatment is more complicated, since there is no one factor that has to be neutralized and the variety of factors is wide and too general.

Diagnosis and treatment

There are three kinds of symptoms that are characteristic of Claustrophobia:

Physiological symptoms:

  • Accelerated heart rate.
  • Excessive perspiration.
  • A dry mouth.
  • Excessive urination.
  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Pupils’ expansion.
  • Difficulty breathing and a feeling of suffocation.
  • Headaches and dizziness.
  • Feeling that one is about to faint.
  • Cognitive symptoms: while the anxiety state is developing, people feel certain that they are on the brink of death. In addition, the sensations and thoughts strengthen this feeling and the person interprets both as signs of real danger. Unable to deviate from this line of thought, the thoughts become worse and lead to a loss of balance.
  • Behavioral symptoms: in most cases, people who are aware of the level of anxiety that they might experience, prefer to avoid potentially triggering situations. They are willing to forego many things and events in their lives, so as not to feel the anxiety again.
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