A lot of people don’t really understand what claustrophobia is but it can actually be a lot of different things. Symptoms can vary depending on the person. Claustrophobia is classified as an anxiety disorder, however, you do not need to have anxiety to have claustrophobia.
Claustrophobia is defined as an irrational fear of tight or enclosed spaces. It can also be classified as a specific phobia that is triggered by tight places. There are many other types of phobias, like a fear of needles or heights. Claustrophobia can also be a phobia or fear of a crowded place or environment. People with claustrophobia are often triggered by the feeling of not being able to get out of these enclosed spaces or crowded places.
As someone who lives with claustrophobia, I find that some people often have a difficult time understanding where my fears are coming from. I try to explain that my fears are irrational- like most things I am anxious about- and that there is no solid reason for them, but people cannot understand that.
For me, the biggest thing that triggers my claustrophobia is a crowded environment. When I am in a large space with a lot of people, I feel like I am surrounded and can’t find a way out. A lot of this problem also coincides with my social anxiety as well. I feel overwhelmed by the amount of people, and fear looking stupid or messing up, so I feel trapped.
There are also enclosed spaces where I feel extra triggered because I feel like if something happens, there is no way out. Some of these include elevators, airplanes, bridges, and rooms without windows. It is important to know that even though these are the things that trigger my claustrophobia, other people can become triggered by a variety of other things.
Since the situations that cause claustrophobia are different for everyone, so are the ways in which the symptoms are presented. Symptoms can range from things like slight nervousness to panic attacks. Specific symptoms can include shortness of breath, increased heart rate, sweating, shaking, nausea, dizziness, dry mouth, hot flashes, hyperventilation, tightness in chest, confusion, headaches, numbness, need to use the bathroom, and a fear of harm.
Having another anxiety disorder increases your risk of having a phobia like claustrophobia.
Any confined area can trigger someone’s claustrophobia, but some come triggers include: elevators, airplanes, subways, trains, revolving doors, tunnels, bathroom stalls, changing rooms, cars with automatic locks, or rooms/cars with shut windows.
You are not actually in danger, but you often feel like you are- like the world is going to end, or that your life is threatened in some way. You know your fear isn’t rational and doesn’t have meaning, but you believe it entirely like it does have reason.