Claustrophobia is a fear of closed-in or small spaces.
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Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
- Having other family members with the same problems
- Having other mental health problems, such as anxiety
Claustrophobia starts during the child or teen years.
Problems may be:
- Fast heartbeat
- Fast breathing
- Problems breathing
- Lightheadedness or fainting
- Feelings of dread or terror
A person may also:
- Look for exit doors when in a room
- Feel very nervous if doors are shut
- Not use elevators, subways, or airplanes
- Not travel in a car in heavy traffic
- Stand near exit doors in crowded places
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.
Claustrophobia may go away on its own. Others may need treatment to manage the fear. Options are:
- Mental health counseling, such as cognitive behavioral therapy
- Medicines to help control feelings of panic
American Psychiatric Association https://www.psychiatry.org
Anxiety and Depression Association of America https://adaa.org
Canadian Mental Health Association https://cmha.ca
Canadian Psychiatric Association https://www.cpa-apc.org
Anxiety disorders. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml. Accessed November 18, 2020.
LeBeau RT, Glenn D, et al. Specific phobia: a review of DSM-IV specific phobia and preliminary recommendations for DSM-V. Depress Anxiety. 2010 Feb;27(2):148-167.
Specific phobia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/specific-phobia. Accessed November 18, 2020.
Treatment. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Available at: https://adaa.org/finding-help/treatment. Accessed November 18, 2020.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
- Review Date: 09/2020
- Update Date: 00/41/2021