Monday, June 29, 2009

Small space...

I have a claustrophobia and I am really sure about that. Claustrophobia is one of the most common phobias and it is characterized by panic that is a result of being in enclosed spaces. I have this fear of being in a small and closed space even though the space is safe. The name claustrophobia comes from the Latin word claustrum which means "a bolt, a place shut in" and the Greek word phobos meaning "fear". Sometimes when I'm in an elevator and I have to go up really high, I got panic, especially when I'm there with strangers. In that kind of situation, I always feel that my heart is bumping so fast and I start to get dizzy. All I want to do is get myself out of the elevator and just breath the air outside the elevator. Another example is when I'm inside a very small car, oh God..I always feel like I can't breath as if I'll never got myself out of that car. The other example is when my body got stuck in a dress. I got panic easily when I try a dress with no zip on it, and when I try to take it out, it seems to be stuckin my body. Oh how I hate that feeling. My sister know about how panic I can be about this dress thingy. But everyone else who knows me aware that I have a claustrophobia. I can't imagine if I have to be inside an MRI scanner. Panic attack will come to me for sure. I really hope I can overcome this fear and get rid of this phobia. So here I am searching about what Claustrophobia really is..

Causes of Claustrophobia
Claustrophobia can develop from either a traumatic childhood experience (such as being trapped in a small space during a childhood game), or from another unpleasant experience later on in life involving confined spaces (such as being stuck in an elevator). When an individual experiences such an event, it can often trigger a panic attack; this response then becomes programmed in the brain, establishing an association between being in a tight space and feeling anxious or out-of-control. As a result, the person often develops claustrophobia.

Claustrophobia symptoms can include:

  • sweating
  • accelerated heartbeat
  • nausea
  • fainting
  • light-headedness
  • shaking
  • hyperventilation
  • a fear of actual imminent physical harm

Some common situations that can cause anxiety in claustrophobia sufferers include:

  • Being inside a room: the individual will look for an exit, for example, at a movie theatre
  • Being inside a car: the individual will avoid driving on the highway or major roads where there is heavy traffic
  • Being inside a building: the individual will avoid taking elevators
  • Being at a party: the individual will stand near a door
  • Being on an airplane
  • While undergoing an MRI or CAT scan (also referred to as MRI claustrophobia and CAT scan claustrophobia, respectively)
  • In extreme cases, the very sight of a closed door can lead to feelings of anxiety in the individual. Claustrophobia can have crippling social and psychological effects since the patient will often avoid situations in which she thinks she will have an anxiety attack, leading to isolation and depression.

Theories of Claustrophobia

Claustrophobia is a fairly mysterious disorder. It doesn't appear in the annals of medicine until the 1870s. A French physician working in Paris wrote of two people who reported feeling anxious when they were inside their apartments with the doors closed. These cases emerged when Paris was rapidly urbanizing -- more people were crowding into the city, and life was getting cramped. Shortly after these cases were documented, a similar case developed in a man who lived in New York just as that city was becoming more urbanized. Some theorists postulate that claustrophobia resulted from the rise of the modern city. The theory makes sense; after all, was there such a thing as fear of flying (aviatophobia) before airplanes existed? So there could be many more claustrophobes in the world than current estimates predict, given that half of the global population lives in cities.

Claustrophobia Treatment

There is no cure for claustrophobia, however, there are several forms of treatment that can help an individual control her condition. Treatment for claustrophobia can include behavior therapy, exposure therapy, drugs or a combination of several treatments.
Behavior therapy includes identifying trigger points and recognizing that one's reactions to these triggers are learned instead of natural; through visualization and positive thinking, the individual learns to disassociate feelings of danger with the confined space.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a type of behavior therapy that deconstructs the individual's preconceived view of reality, reducing the anxiety provoked by a specific situation or setting. Flooding is a type of exposure treatment in which the individual is exposed to a situation until the anxiety attack passes; a less extreme form of exposure treatment is counter-conditioning. Counter-conditioning includes behavior therapy, as the individual is taught visualization and relaxation techniques before being slowly reintroduced to the trigger situation.
Medications prescribed to help treat claustrophobia include anti-depressants and beta-blockers, which help to relieve the heart pounding often associated with anxiety attacks. Alternative claustrophobia treatments include regression hypnotherapy, in which hypnotherapy is used to remember the traumatic event that led to the individual's claustrophobia. The patient is taught to see the event with ‘adult' eyes, which helps to decrease the sense of panic that it has instilled into their minds.
(sources from and from and flickr rhino neal's photostream)


Anonymous said...

I feel for you, because you know I suffer that kind of anxiety too! I actually felt all of those symptoms for 45 days straight before I broke down in 2003. I'm curious how you deal with it? Deep breathing is okay, but I find it makes me even dizzier!!! I saw a naturopath one time and she told me to carry a bottle of lavender essential oil and when I'm feeling anxiety come on, to inhale it a little bit. I also use aromatherapy each morning, citrus oils to help boost my mood. They really work for me!

boya arsila said...

Oh..I know that feeling..deep breathing but it can pnly bring you a dizzier head..But if the aromatherapy works for you..maybe I should try on that one too..thank you for the tips Rain=)

Anonymous said...

That must be something tough to deal with Boya. I don't have that fear but my Dad has it in a way. Well only in certain situations. He has asthma like me too and so it always triggers his asthma too.

boya arsila said...

I guess the most important thing is to always be calm when your fears come to you..because I bet I can't think of anything good when I got panic..

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