The fear of small spaces is generally classified as Claustrophobia. This fear is very common and generally exists because the individual can feel trapped in close quarters. The urge to flee makes it very difficult to remain rational and calm. A person with claustrophobia will struggle with locations like a cave, closet, cellar, elevator or in a crawl space under a house or attic. These individuals may even experience claustrophobia in congested traffic or even wearing clothing they feel is too restrictive.
What Causes Claustrophobia
In most cases involving phobias they begin with a traumatic incident usually suffered as a child. Some children may have been locked in a closet. Some may have been trapped under something they couldn’t escape from. This could be a toy box, bed or stairwell. The feelings of suffocation may be common among those who fear small spaces. The urge to flee is so strong it can actually lead to an individual harming themselves in an attempt to get away from the confinement.
The trigger for many who fear small spaces is simply a mirror reaction to the emotional response that originally caused the fear.
Signs of Claustrophobia
A person who is claustrophobic will be compulsive about locating escape points in all situations. When they cannot find a way of escape the following symptoms may be systematically noted among these individuals.
- Visible concern
- Noticeable perspiration
- Elevated heart rate
- Lack of rational discussion
- Overwhelming feelings of terror
- Physical efforts to escape
- Crying or screaming
The feelings experienced with claustrophobia may be a lot like having a finger stuck in a tight space and feeling as if you must do everything possible to release the thumb – even if it means injuring yourself to do so.
Overcoming the Fear of Small Spaces
The treatment of claustrophobia is important because it can be very problematic in social settings, but it can also be a fear that grows so large in your mind that you allow the fear to migrate to other areas of your life. It can, in fact, become so debilitating that an individual can eventually refuse to leave whatever they believe to be their comfort zone. This is a place they consider safe and they feel ill equipped to manage their fear apart from this location (usually their home).
In some cases relaxation techniques and visualization therapy can help those who live with this fear. A number of medications are available to help relieve anxiety. They do this in part by removing some of the inhibitions normally experienced by the individual living in fear. Many are only suited for short-term use.
A therapist can work to assist a person who is claustrophobic. Their work allows the individual to gradually face their fears and deal with them one by one.
By moving to a place of fear-free living the individual has a chance at living a life that is remarkably different than when those feelings of dread are a constant, but unwelcome companions.
If you suffer from claustrophobia I urge you to seek out help and find a support group comprised of those who have faced down this fear and can help you achieve your own fear reducing goals.