Anxiety and claustrophobia are like two old friends that you never want to see. The first thing that happens is a little tremble within. Then, you feel the pressure building up. Your hands and feet start to fidget. Your palms become moist and you can’t feel yourself anymore. Your inner calmness flows out of the window.
Claustrophobia is an anxiety disorder or more like a symptom of anxiety. You know you are claustrophobic if you have an extreme fear of confined places. Anxiety and claustrophobia along with panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are generalized as anxiety disorders.
Causes Of Claustrophobia And Anxiety
The exact causes of anxiety disorders like claustrophobia and anxiety are unknown. Research indicates that your genetic and environmental factors are responsible for your fears and feeling of anxiety.1
Science-Based Causes Of Claustrophobia And Anxiety
Dysfunction of hippocampus and amygdala – parts of your brains – can lead to claustrophobia and anxiety. Hippocampus is a region of your brain that stores memories of fearful events. It
Claustrophobia can be a dysfunction of amygdala – a part of your brain that controls the emotion of fear. Experiences like being stuck in a tight space, punished by being locked in a small space in childhood, and left in a tight space for a long period of time can all lead to you being claustrophobic.
Claustrophobia and anxiety can occur alongside other major mental health issues – such as depression and substance abuse.3
Here is a list of other vulnerable factors in the development of claustrophobia and anxiety.
- Inhibited, shy, and withdrawn behavior in childhood.
- Extreme shyness and lack of social interaction.
- Concerns regarding public embarrassment.
- Personal issues like divorce, death in the family, and chronic illness.
- Stressful life events in childhood and adulthood.
- Family history of mental instability.4
Ways To Control And Treat Claustrophobia And Anxiety
How can you control the feelings of being anxious and claustrophobic? How can you stop it from gaining ground and becoming a major mental health disorder? Here’s how!5
1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you think, deal, and react differently to certain situations. It mainly focuses on identifying and then, neutralizing those negative thoughts that cause claustrophobia and anxiety. It also helps you confront your fears and encourages you to engage in activities that you’ve been avoiding.
2. Support Groups
When claustrophobia and anxiety become overwhelming, it impacts your personal life. This is when you need some type of support from people facing similar issues. In support groups,
Support groups make you feel less isolated as you interact and make connections with others facing similar challenges. This therapy should not be an alternative to medical care.
Meditation is an ancient practice that helps you relax and promotes your well-being. It is known to reduce blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia, fear, and depression.
Start by focusing your attention on something positive and eliminate the stream of negative thoughts. Meditation will help you enhance your physical and emotional well-being.
4. Lifestyle Changes
If you don’t train yourself to combat negativity, fear, and anxiety, of course, you’ll never feel better.
- If you believe that alcohol, cigarettes, or other drugs provide temporary relief, you are wrong! These can make your anxiety and claustrophobia worse. Avoid these vices for a better you.
- When subjected to situations where you may feel anxious or claustrophobic, relax physically. When exposed to such triggers, replace your fear and anxiety with a relaxation response.
- Try slowing down and breathing with your belly. Slow down a few minutes before you step into a situation that makes you claustrophobic or anxious. You can even stop for a minute. Take deep breaths through your nose and focus on air going in and out. This might help you relax.
While the above tips can provide a great deal of help for those suffering from claustrophobia and anxiety, it’s important that you understand your anxiety further and learn to cope with your emotions in a better way. Don’t hide away from the world and disappear. Take some time out and do something productive to improve your mood.
|↑1||Anxiety Disorders. National Institute Of Mental Health.|
|↑2||Cominski, Tara P., Xilu Jiao, Jennifer E. Catuzzi, Amanda L. Stewart, and Kevin CH Pang. “The role of the hippocampus in avoidance learning and anxiety vulnerability.” Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience 8 (2014): 273.|
|↑3||Steimer T. The biology of fear- and anxiety-related behaviors. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. 2002;4(3):231-249.|