Over 10 % of World’s Population Suffering from Claustrophobia, Study Finds

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A recent study conducted by scientists at the University of Texas, Department of Philosophy and Psychiatry, affirms that over 10% of the world’s population is affected by claustrophobia, but only a little percentage of the population is aware of the condition and receives some kind of treatment for the disorder.

The research, led by Dr. Jonathan David Horowitz, recommended various treatments for claustrophobia such as exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), virtual reality (VR), relaxation, and visualization.

Claustrophobia is a disorder of anxiety and nervousness that easily leads to fear. So if you have a phobia of confined places, dark rooms, elevators, dark rooms, and crowded places, you might likely be diagnosed to be suffering from claustrophobia.

Psychologists usually describe claustrophobia as a specific phobia and are typically classified as an anxiety disorder that often results in severe or mild panic attacks.

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The consecutive occurrence of this disorder is a significant factor that drives a severe panic attack and such reoccurrence could give rise to worse mental cases.

Claustrophobia appears to be different for everyone as the human body and its reaction vary from each other. The anxiety rate in everyone ranges from mild nervousness to a full-blown panic attack, the study finds.

The scientists also discovered that some people have claustrophobia symptoms when they’re in all types of closed-up areas. Others notice the problem only when they’re in certain cramped spaces, like inside an MRI machine.

Another factor that predisposes someone to the condition is genes as the researchers detected a gene called GPM6A that they suspect may be a cause of claustrophobia. If one of your parents has claustrophobia, there’s an 80% possibility that you are more likely to have it, too, they opined.

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For doctors to diagnose anxiety as a phobia, it has to be serious enough to affect your ability to live a normal life.

Claustrophobia is sometimes triggered by many conditions or stimuli, including elevators, especially when crowded to capacity, windowless rooms, hotel rooms with closed doors, sealed windows, bullying, and abuse. Even bedrooms with a lock on the outside, small cars, and tight-necked clothing can induce a response in those with claustrophobia.

To help persons suffering from the condition, the scientists further explain on the treatment options for claustrophobia.

Treatment options for claustrophobia

Exposure therapy: is a form of treatment that gradually puts you into situations that frighten you to help you get over your fear. At first, you might just look at a photo of a tight space. Then, with your therapist’s help, you work up to being inside a tight space.

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Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT):  is a type of discussion therapy were you with a trained therapist that gives you free will to comfortably express the negative thoughts that drive your fear and help you learn ways to overcome them. You may get CBT alone or combined with exposure therapy.

Virtual reality (VR): This uses computer simulations of tight spaces like elevators or MRI machines. Getting the experience of a tight space in the virtual world can help you get over your fear in a setting that feels safe.

Relaxation and visualization: This can be a means where you can learn ways to calm your fear when you’re in a situation that usually scares you.

Medical treatment: comes in a situation when therapy is possibly not enough, your doctor can prescribe anxiety drugs or antidepressants to help you deal with the situations that cause your fear.

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