Claustrophobia is defined as an irrational fear of confined spaces. This can include spaces like lifts and trains. Claustrophobia is believed to affect around 5-7% of the world’s population.
Some people experience distress more than others, but some degree of fear surrounding being restrained is normal.
The problems occur when this fear affects your daily life. You may find you are unable to take lifts, or that you have to change your commute into work. At this point, you are typically described as having a phobia.
This means that whenever you come into contact with the source of the phobia (in this case, small spaces) you will feel a sense of rising panic. This leads to physical sensations like shortness of breath and palpitations – which can be scary in itself. In order to avoid this sensation again, you may avoid the trigger. This pattern of avoidance can make your phobia worse over time as you stop exposing yourself to certain situations.
So, how can you overcome this phobia? First of all it’s important to remember that everyone is different and will respond to different therapies. Common treatments include cognitive behavioural therapy and exposure therapy. Both aim to train your mind to respond in a calmer way to triggers.
Another increasingly popular therapy being used to overcome claustrophobia is hypnotherapy. A hypnotherapist can use suggestion techniques to help the unconscious process information without the interference of the critical mind. They can also help you to associate the trigger (for example, a lift) with a sensation of calm and relaxation.