The fear of closed or narrow spaces is colloquial as Claustrophobia or claustrophobia known. However, this phobia should not be confused with agoraphobia, in which fear occurs in certain places or rooms. It is a fear that can have various causes. However, the strength of claustrophobic symptoms can usually be reduced by taking suitable measures.
The symptoms of claustrophobia vary from person to person. How strong and threatening they are depends on the severity of the disease.
In the claustrophobia or Claustrophobia it is a so-called specific phobia; that is, it is a fear that is limited to certain topics. In the case of claustrophobia, these topics are, for example, narrow or closed rooms or places.
If a person concerned is confronted with these issues, he usually reacts with a pronounced malaise or the desire to escape from the situation. Often the claustrophobia refers to feeling at the mercy of the situation and feeling helpless.
Such claustrophobia can be linked to physical reactions, such as an increasing heart rate, tremors, sweating, dilated pupils or difficult breathing. If claustrophobia is very pronounced, confrontation with frightening stimuli can also lead to so-called stimulus-related panic attacks.
There are different models in psychology and medicine that explain the causes of a claustrophobia try to explain. It is likely that in most cases there are several combined causes behind one Claustrophobia stand.
A possible causal factor lies in negative experiences that a person concerned has had in the past with a tight environment. Even very emphatically described negative experiences of close people can contribute to the development of claustrophobia. Claustrophobia can also develop 'by accident', so to speak; this happens as part of a so-called conditioning:
A negative experience is made while being in a narrow space by chance, for example, and the experience is mistakenly associated with the confined space. Hereditary influence is still being discussed in science. So it is likely that susceptibility to developing fears such as claustrophobia can also be genetic.
The symptoms of claustrophobia vary from person to person. How strong and threatening they are perceived depends on the severity of the disease. The most common symptoms include palpitations and palpitations, which can be accompanied by shortness of breath. Those affected also sometimes complain of a tightness in the throat or chest, weak knees and an unsteady gait.
In addition, there may be tremors and internal tremors, profuse sweating and nausea, which can range up to vomiting, can make themselves felt. Sometimes numbness occurs, an indefinable tingling sensation in the extremities or severe dizziness. Sometimes they feel a dry mouth, hot flashes or chills. The oppression can cause chest pain and high blood pressure.
Fast, shallow breathing, right up to hyperventilation, is also possible. In extreme cases, this can lead to fainting. Affected people also perceive the feeling of going crazy or losing their mind. Sometimes they have a panic attack, they think they are suffocating or they are about to die. This overwhelming fear can escalate into fear of death.
All of these symptoms may or may not occur. Over time, however, most sufferers develop a massive fear of the particular situation that triggered these symptoms, so they try to avoid this place in the future.
A Claustrophobia can show different courses. For example, it may be possible for those affected to avoid situations in their everyday life that trigger claustrophobic fears. They then rarely come into contact with their claustrophobia. In other cases, frequent avoidance of anxiety-inducing situations can also increase the claustrophobia.
It is also possible that various situations that cause claustrophobia are constantly increasing. Since various therapy methods usually have a good chance of success, starting therapy early can help prevent the claustrophobia from spreading.
The complications that result from claustrophobia are mostly of a social nature and thus have a negative impact on the psyche of those affected. A pronounced or increasing claustrophobia lead to a general avoidance behavior that includes actually harmless places (supermarkets with aisles, all rooms without windows, a corner in a restaurant, etc.).
As a result, the person concerned sooner or later finds himself in a social isolation because he can no longer participate in everyday things. In addition, the entire everyday life is severely restricted, which can be seen in a changed diet, in the loss of a job or in reduced exercise.
Due to self-limitation and isolation, those affected can develop depressive symptoms, each of which leads to further complications. Another focus is on the substances that sufferers can ingest to relieve their anxiety. This includes, for example, alcohol, other legal intoxicants and illegal drugs.
Those affected by claustrophobia can become dependent on the substance if they suppress their fear with drugs. This, too, not only entails health problems, but also - depending on the substance - is associated with serious financial and social losses. Sometimes this can also lead to legal problems.
Claustrophobia is a disease that comes in different forms. In addition, it is not easy for those affected to recognize it, as symptoms from the physical area such as palpitations or dizziness are often in the foreground and conceal the fact that it is actually an anxiety disorder. If you suspect claustrophobia, your family doctor is your first point of contact due to the similar symptoms of anxiety disorders and cardiovascular diseases. In many cases he is able to determine claustrophobia or other illnesses. In severe cases, he can refer to a psychologist or psychotherapist.
For the therapy of claustrophobia, the cooperation of the patient is essential, as he should seek out the fear-inducing situations so that he can determine that these are harmless and not associated with any danger. In mild cases this can be done by the patient himself. However, if the fear has become too great, exposure therapy needs professional support.
Going to the doctor or psychologist is then important for the person concerned. If an anxiety disorder flares up again, a visit to the doctor is also useful. Anxiety disorders can easily become chronic, so that early identification and treatment of the vicious circle of fear and the avoidance of fear-inducing situations can be successfully prevented at an early stage.
Depending on the level of suffering suffered by a person claustrophobia feels he may have a desire to combat his claustrophobia. There are various therapy options for this purpose: The treatment options for claustrophobia include, for example, various forms of psychotherapy.
So-called behavioral therapy has proven to be successful. The content of behavior therapy can be, for example, to work on inner convictions with a patient and to develop behavior in such a way that in corresponding situations it is no longer determined by claustrophobia.
For example, a behavior therapist and his patient can question in several sessions how realistic the fears associated with claustrophobia actually are. At the same time, it can be a goal of behavior therapy to gain positive experiences: The patient should therefore seek out situations with the therapist in which claustrophobia occurs and not flee; this is the only way to ensure that feared consequences (such as suffocation) do not occur.
Other forms of psychotherapy are, for example, talk therapy or analytical therapy. Depending on the severity of a claustrophobia, it can also be useful to combine psychotherapy with drug therapy that alleviates claustrophobia. This makes it easier for the patient not to avoid the dreaded situations.
To a strong one claustrophobia To prevent this, it can make sense to deal with your own weaker fears that affect this issue. It can also help not to avoid such situations so that claustrophobia does not increase. If claustrophobic symptoms increase anyway, early therapeutic measures can often counteract this.
Claustrophobia needs consistent follow-up after therapy so that unhealthy behavior and thought patterns do not flare up again. Active cooperation of the patient is very important in this context. So even after the therapy is over, places that were filled with fear or discomfort have to be visited again and again.
The patient should experience again and again that staying in places with many people is harmless and does not pose any threat. Self-help groups are often valuable support here, as discussions with those affected enable the exchange of experiences and can often offer valuable tips.
Patients who have treated claustrophobia are often under an unpleasant basic tension even after the treatment has ended, against which good aftercare has a whole range of efficient measures to offer. The ability to trust in your own body again can be improved with dosed endurance training.
The patient can also achieve the necessary relaxation with yoga, where he learns to pay attention to his body and his breathing. Relaxation and meditation are also part of the yoga class, which can represent holistic calming for body, mind and soul. Methods such as progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacbosen or autogenic training offer further relaxation options. Relaxing baths in the evening can also be very helpful.
Claustrophobia can have a major impact on everyday life. As a rule, those affected avoid anxiety-inducing situations, but this only increases the claustrophobia in the long term and reduces the quality of life. In order to overcome claustrophobia, the patient has to face his fears: If, for example, taking an elevator is perceived as frightening, he should practice it in small steps until the fear subsides significantly. An accompanying person gives the necessary security before the frightening situation can be mastered alone.
In many cases, behavior therapy from an experienced psychotherapist is necessary to cope with a very pronounced or long-standing claustrophobia. In addition to the confrontation with fear-inducing situations, the focus is on detecting and changing certain thought patterns that trigger feelings of fear and, as a result, physical symptoms. The person concerned must also practice this conscious mind control consistently in everyday life so that the desired success can be achieved in the long term.
Learning a relaxation technique is helpful to lower the general stress level and to face emerging fears more calmly. In acute stressful situations, conscious deep breathing in and out can bring relief. Many people cope better with their claustrophobia if they can exchange ideas with other sufferers: They can find advice and support in a self-help group.