Claustrophobia is an excessive fear of being enclosed in spaces and having no room to escape or breathe. People who have claustrophobia experience excessive fear to the point of being significantly distressed.

Claustrophobia is typically classified as an anxiety disorder and often results in panic attacks.

The fear can include any confide space such as:

  • Dark small rooms
  • Elevators
  • Lifts
  • MRI Scans
  • Crowded spaces such as concerts
  • Airplanes
  • Tubes/trains
  • Tunnels
  • Cellars/basements
  • Locked rooms
  • Tunnels
  • Automatic car wash
  • Revolving doors
  • Ferry cabin with no window
  • Caves


Symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks often include but vary from person to person:

  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Fast breathing
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Shaking
  • A chocking sensation

Thinking patterns associated with Claustrophobia

Individuals are vulnerable to anxiety when they get caught up in their thoughts. Certain ways you think can cause and maintain claustrophobia. Common thoughts include:

  • ‘’I will be trapped’’
  • ‘’I am out of control’’
  • ‘’I will faint’’
  • ‘’I will die’’
  • ‘’What if… (the plane crashes, I get trapped, I won’t be able to breathe’’)

These thoughts often lead to increased efforts to control and escape which only serve to increase anxiety and maintain claustrophobia.


Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a highly effective treatment for claustrophobia. Research shows that 90% of people who undertake CBT for claustrophobia experience a remission of symptoms by the 10th session. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been proven to be the most effective in treating claustrophobia.

Claustrophobia treatment begins with psychoeducation on anxiety and claustrophobia. The aim is to help the client build a new and healthy way of responding to anxiety and to help them change their thinking patterns. The client and the Psychologist will work in a collaborative way and set an agenda at the start of each session to keep the therapy goal orientated and focused.

Therapy will help to identify situations that trigger undue anxiety and arrange them in a hierarchy from most triggering to least triggering. This hierarchy is then used to identify unhelpful thought patterns, and to replace them with more adaptive ways of thinking about these situations.

Later in treatment visualization is used as a first step in facing the fear. Following this, therapy will work on the hierarchy with gradual exposure to help the client build mastery of each situation while working their way through the entire hierarchy. Clients often report feeling empowered by the therapy.

The therapy is directive, active and collaborative in its approach helping clients overcome their fear.

If you feel you are experiencing Claustrophobia and it is affecting your life, contact the clinic for a confidential appointment.