claustrophobics get scared or even panic attacks in narrow or closed rooms. Colloquially, one often speaks of claustrophobia, but this is not true – it is much more a fear of space. The word claustrophobia is composed of the Latin word lock or custody and the Greek word for fear. In general, all phobias have something in common: the affected person classifies harmless situations as frightening.
Claustrophobics feel threatened in confined spaces or crowds of people. They do not feel well because they do not see any possibility to escape the situation, they are afraid to lose control over themselves/the situation. you feel a constant readiness to flee and the urge to run away. Therefore, when faced with unavoidable situations (e.g. B. business meetings etc.) always sitting at the edge and near an emergency exit. Before you open a door (z. B. Toilet door) lock, they test whether the lock works.
Claustrophobics often go through a vicious circle. They know about the situations that scare them and therefore try to avoid them. Thus the fear of the fear becomes ever larger up to the panic attack. Sufferers dramatize the perceived danger and thus the fear gets worse and worse and gets bigger and bigger. There is a danger of isolation.
Once exposed to ‘danger’ may experience heart palpitations/ palpitations, dizziness, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, pressure and tightness in the chest and gastrointestinal problems. Some even have the feeling of going mad / going crazy.
However, clasutrophobia does not always have to have such a serious impact on the life of the sufferer or manifest itself in the above symptoms. Often the sufferer knows nothing about this phobia. Only in extreme situations like z. B. with an examination in the MRT (magnetic resonance tomography) this can express itself.
If claustrophobia has reached a level that requires treatment (massively interferes with people’s lives and behaviors), the sufferer should confront their fears and, with the help of a therapist, gradually confront the perceived danger. So he can learn that these fears are unfounded.
- Psychological cause: z. B. Overload due to extreme tension caused by stress, or a supposedly unsolvable problem.
- Traumatic experiences: these can also lie many years back.
- Genetic predisposition: Depending on the predisposition, the risk of developing an anxiety disorder (phobia) is pronounced.
What you can do
- Face your fear.
- At a certain point (when your behavior is affected), seek help from a doctor.
When to see a doctor
If claustrophobia affects your life and / or behavior.
What your doctor can do for you
- cognitive behavioral therapy: the doctor researches the causes together with you. This helps v.a. Help the sufferer understand his fear and make him aware that he is not ‘crazy’.
- Relaxation training: The doctor shows the person ways to relax or even breathing techniques. In addition, he or she can mediate the connection between thoughts and feelings. In this way, the sufferer can learn how to reduce the physical symptoms accompanying the anxiety.
- Confrontation therapy/training: In this case, the affected person learns to consciously confront his or her fear by (possibly. with therapists) enters a supposedly dangerous situation. Since the affected person knows from the head that he should not be afraid, nevertheless in certain situations he is put into a state of fear, he learns in this way that he can trust his head/body.
- psychological counseling: If the phobia is caused by stressful situations or stressful experiences, a therapist will discuss and work through these with the person affected.
- Drug treatment with antidepressants.
Prevention is not possible in this sense. It is important to listen to your body. An anxiety situation can also be stress-related and does not have to mean a phobia immediately. If the fears recur in certain situations, face the problem and do not try to run away from it.