A phobia is a form of anxiety disorder in which someone has an intense fear of certain situations or objects. The fear of being in a small space or room and enable to escape also called: Claustrophobia, is one of the most common phobias. The word claustrophobia comes from the Latin word claustrum which means “a closed-in place,” and the Greek word, phobos meaning “fear” (Paddock, 2017). A person who has claustrophobia deals with panic, anxiety and fear. It is an anxiety that affects the person when is exposed to closed places like: elevators, crowded rooms, buses, planes or rooms without windows, tunnels, and in some rare cases some people don’t tolerate tight-necked clothing.
The symptoms or reactions to claustrophobia and anxiety are closely related, they usually appear during childhood or adolescence. They can be:
· Visual physical symptoms such as: dizziness, shaking, sweating, nauseas
· Inward physical symptoms like: increased blood pressure and accelerated heart rate, dry mouth, headache, shortness of breath, chest pain
· Psychological reactions like: panic, tension, overwhelm, irrational thoughts (confusion-disorientation) and others (NoBullying.com, 2015).
Even though there is no diagnostic laboratory test for phobias, psychologist uses different methods to diagnose or measure the level of claustrophobia. Such as:
· The Claustrophobia Scale it is a tool that has one subscale of 20 items for measuring anxiety and another 18-item scale for assessing avoidance.
· The Claustrophobia Questionnaire (CLQ) is an instrument designed to evaluate the fear of suffocation and the fear of restriction (Shaffer, 2017).
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) based on diagnostic interview data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), reported that in 2016 an estimated 9.1% of U.S. adults had specific phobia. Based on the National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), they also reported that an estimated of 19.3% of U.S. adolescents on an average age from 13 to 18 years had specific phobia (National Institute of Mental Health, 2017).
Most of the people who suffer from claustrophobia are because they have had a traumatic experience during their childhood. Some traumatic situations can be: being punished by being locked in a small place, being left by accident in some place, being in a dark place and don’t found the door or light, or have fallen in a pool without knowing how to swim (Scaccia, 2016). Those are just personal experience factors, also known as a conditioned origin of claustrophobia. There is also the possibility of a hereditary cause, something that has being affecting the family generation by generation. Neuroscientists have found that the onset of claustrophobia could be related to a dysfunction of the amygdala, which is the part of the brain that controls how we process fear. In a study directed by Dr. Fumi Hayano was found that patients with anxiety attacks generally had an especially small amygdala which led them to react abnormally to common stimuli associated with panic disorders (O’Rene Daille, 2016).