Understanding the Anxiety Disorders Connected to Claustrophobia:

Liberty Psychological Association

Claustrophobia is associated to multiple different anxiety-related disorders, including:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder : Generalized anxiety disorder refers to a non-stop, ongoing form of anxiety or even worrying. It maybe that generalized anxiety disorder plays a part in the development of claustrophobia. More than likely, there are some correlation between what got a person to develop the condition and his or her anxiety.
  • Panic Disorder: when some person is in an small space, they become most likely to have a panic attack. Possibly the individual was at a bigger risk of panic disorder or panic attacks, which could mean that they have general anxiety symptoms.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: Those persons with social phobia more often experience a feeling of running away to escape as part of their condition, although usually this is connected to social situations and not just small spaces.

Finally, experts may not know how or why claustrophobia forms. Clearly, it maybe connected to other anxiety symptoms.

The Possible Causes of Claustrophobia:

Traumatic events seem to play a role in certain people’s claustrophobia. Children left in a room by chance or unusually punished by being placed in a small space, which would be the reason that for the development of claustrophobia in some individuals.

Or possibly, some may get claustrophobia without any traumatic experiences. Fears may also develop by learning it from someone close to them: often a mother or a father’s experiences of claustrophobia can be adopted by their child.

There are some that say that it’s an complicated phobia, where fear of small places without an escape way may have some type of survival benefit to it. As an example, claustrophobia could be adaptive because of small spaces and the persons might feel the risk of suffocation or inability to run away, which could be dangerous for them. In human history, this type of fear would have been a great advantage. But in todays world that we live in which at times is a safer world, it is less needed and it may interfere with ones life.

Does the Cause of Claustrophobia Matter:

There has been so much time spent on researching the cause, it is important to understand that not all kinds of anxiety have a clear reason, and finding the cause itself may not always be helpful. There are people that get anxiety disorders for no given reason “it could be genetically passed on from blood relatives?” as well as those people who develop them due to a series of unrelated events.

As an example, one can develop claustrophobia from any unrelated situation. If one had an anxiety attack at a wedding and then he or she left the event using a small elevator, their mind can associate the anxiety with the small elevator, but the anxiety was caused by the wedding party and not the small elevator. Trying to find the cause of claustrophobia is not an easy task.

Many believe that the cause does not always matter. There is a lot of evidence that most forms of anxiety, maybe treated with the right anxiety reducing techniques. So those suffering from claustrophobia can reduce their suffering by using certain correct strategies.

How to Reduce Anxiety and Claustrophobia:

This treatment approach is known as “exposure”: The treatment for claustrophobia is not easy because it usually includes experiencing a great amount of fear at first and then trying to cope with that intense fear. It is recommended that one tries this approach with the help of a mental health professional.

Research has shown that humans have the ability to suffer less anxiety when they are forced to face their fear for a long period of time. But this only can work if one allows themselves to experience the phobia until the phobia goes away. If one runs away from their fear, it may cause “reinforcement.”

Reinforcement: is the process, that ones mind is 100% convinced of their fear being legitimate, because he or she ran away from it, then it must be something very dangerous that is why they ran away from it. It is like as if ones behavior has an effect on how ones mind sees the scary situation. If a person continually avoids the scary situation, he or she will never get a chance to face the source of their fear and prove to themselves that he or she can survive it.

This can be complicated, we need to look at an example of claustrophobia:

The small elevator as an example. If one has a fear of small elevators, and he or she walks inside of one and feels claustrophobic, they could have the chance to run right away. But, if they leave the small elevator as fast as they can, they will “reinforce” the phobia. Why is that? In running away, he or she has confirmed to themselves the idea that small elevators represent fear so they have to be avoided it at all costs.

On the other hand, if one stays in the small elevator for an extended period of time, and accept their fear, and anxiety by controlling it, by using different anxiety reduction strategies, one can show his or her self that it’s okay to ride small elevators and that they are not dangerous.

For those people with extreme claustrophobia, this technique is not easy to do. This process is known as “exposure therapy,” and but this is something one can slowly adapt to it, rather than all of a sudden jumping into it and hoping it will all go away. It takes patients, courage, time and practice, but the guidance of a mental health professional could be required if the persons symptoms are severe.

one also needs to learn to control his or her anxiety disorders that could be linked to their claustrophobia. This could be especially true if the person is having a panic attack because the above types of conditions that maybe unlikely to go away by them self, “until” their claustrophobia is being managed.

Psychotropic medications might help reduce the symptoms, please see a psychiatrist.

By: Shervan K. Shahhian

Liberty Psychological Association

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