Claustrophobia, Anyone?

I have always suspected that I was mildly Claustrophobic.

My  discomfort was immediate to closed spaces like elevators, moving buses and trains with closed windows, underground subway stations etc.  

I do have to take elevators daily at my office to get to the floor I work, which is on the 4th. I don’t need to spend too much time in the elevator and there is always people around me in the morning hours when the work day is about to start and in the evenings, when everyone leaves after shift. Coming to think of it, I remember my preference to tag along with someone/anyone I come across in the vicinity whenever I step into that ridiculously small space. But at the time, it didn’t strike me as a conscious thing I was doing.

Well, not until last week…

Claustrophobia- Causes and Treatments

That’s when I finally realized that I actually have a severe case of claustrophobia. And it took an MRI to jolt me awake to this prognosis. Never in my dreams, I imagined that I was going to act crazy in the test room after the technician tucked me into that torture chamber after strapping me well into a god forsaken gurney.

Initially, when my Doc scheduled an MRI, as part of the routine questionnaire, he asked.

“Are you claustrophobic?”

I answered: “I think very mild” (mild my foot, little did I know then)

To avoid any issues, he prescribed some medications which I never bothered to buy. I tucked the prescription into my purse and forgot about it. Yeah, I hate my guts sometimes.

Okay, coming back to the hell hole I am talking about…

It was like I did not have enough air in there. My throat constricted and I couldn’t lift up my hands or move my head. My breathing became faster and I tried to catch my breath, in vain. Apparently, it was a panic attack and it was so very ugly.

Bless the technician for providing me with a call button in the beginning!  I squeezed it tight and a piercing siren came along scaring me even further. It took an eternity for the technician to come to my rescue and pull me out of ‘the scariest place’ I have ever been in my life! I was shaking uncontrollably and I felt very weak. My arms flailed in the air and I beckoned her to remove the saddle from my face so that I could find my bearings.

The whole incident happened in about five minutes, I think. But it was plenty of time to witness hell and come back. I finally learned the hard way that a confined space could kill me, not just figuratively but literally as well. 

This incident left me curious.

How could I have a phobia for closed spaces without having any kind of negative experience associated with it ever in my life? 

So I googled the word ‘Claustrophobia’ and waited to see what my favorite Search Engine can tell me about it.

Google never lets me down, you know?

Anyways, I found some information on this topic.

According to, Claustrophobia is defined as a fear of enclosed spaces. The severity of this disorder may differ from person to person. It goes on further saying that claustrophobic people find MRI and other similar tests difficult without some sort of relaxant medications. 

Better Health, an Australian Government funded website lay out the blue print of treatments for Claustrophobia and let me tell you, I am not a fan of any of these procedures.


Also known as exposure treatment, the person is required to sit in an enclosed space and confront his or her phobic fears until it passes. This realization that they went through the worst possible form of ‘feeling trapped situation’ and nothing happened is considered as an effective form of therapy (well, I am never going to do this)

 Counter Conditioning

If Flooding sounds a bit extreme (yes, it is for me), then this form of treatment could be an option. While the person is subjected to various relaxation techniques, ‘the phobic trigger’ is introduced slowly and gradually. This method helps the person to face his fears without feeling anxious. This procedure is also termed as Systematic Desensitisation.


In this method, pretty much, you watch other people go through the phobic trigger without any discomfort and encouraged to do the same

 Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: (CBT)

In this process, the person is urged to face and diminish the specific thoughts that lead to the anxiety while in a closed space.

Medications could also help a bit.

I checked far and wide in the vast world of web on the causes of Claustrophobia and found nothing that could make sense of its existence in my case. Wikipedia says that the cause for Claustrophobia is unknown and the fear of closed spaces is considered irrational in most incidents. It goes on to say that most people who are victims to this do know consciously that they are not in any danger when they find themselves in tight spaces, but are still terrified to the point of incapacitation.

All of this information above doesn’t really answer my question, does it? So, I stopped searching. For now, only one thing matters- that I am officially claustrophobic.

 I will have to stay away from closed spaces if I can help.

And I should really not let my mortal enemies know that the easiest way to get to me or kill me is to stuff  me up in a box…Ha! 

What triggers your fears?



  1. I’m a bit claustrophobic myself. I’ve never had an MRI done but I imagine it would probably be really scary for me also! I’m also afraid of heights and sometimes just watching someone jumping off a high cliff or whatever gives me goosebumps!

  2. Oh my gosh, I am very claustrophobic! I had an MRI about 10 years ago and I about lost it. They had to give me a sedative, plus these fancy glasses that had mirrors on them. I could see outside the horrible tube which helped me not feel so trapped. That was the longest five minutes of my life! I get a little freaked in large crowds too, so I just have to take deep breaths and look up at the sky to remind myself I’m not trapped!

  3. I have a panic attack as soon as I get into an elevator. My trigger? You know that little “flip” your stomach does on a rollercoaster, going too fast over a hill in a car, or when the elevator starts moving? Yeah… instant freak-out mode for me. Apparently adrenaline is my biggest fear trigger.
    By the way, flooding sounds horrible! I don’t think there’s any way I could subject myself to that kind of treatment!

    1. Nice to meet you Angie! Thank you for visiting and following 🙂 I already took a ticket for your blog train.. Thank you for reserving the seat 😉 Have a good day!

  4. Snakes trigger my fears…even thinking about them makes me start to have a panic attack. My mother could never do MRIs without medication either…I think it is actually somewhat common. So sorry you had to go through that stress…must have been exhausting! Stopping by from SITS.-Ashley

  5. Ugh, isn’t that the WORST! I have a fear of bridges and tunnels and I have to use either one or the other everyday of my commute. I just try to find a focal point and really focus on my breathing – sort of getting to my zen place. I’ve had one of those open MRI/PET scans – that’s better than being inserted into one of those machines!

  6. My little dude is terrified of elevators – no idea where the fear came from! But, perhaps like you say, it is just a small enclosed space.

  7. I am not claustrophobic, but I certainly can empathize with those who are! My biggest phobia is spiders…….*shudder*

  8. I’ve never had a problem with claustrophobia but sounds like you had a really terrible experience. My fear is snakes, even if it’s harmless I would freak out so I can sympathize with you on your fear. I’m visiting from GrowingUpMadison. Hope you have a great week!

    1. oh yes, I am scared of snakes too…and spiders and cockroaches and anything slimy and slithery… yup, it is a long list.. but Claustrophobia is the latest addition to this list.. one which I didn’t know existed in the first place..:) Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  9. I had a very similar experience with my first and last MRI. If I ever need to have another MRI they will have to knock me out cold! Not only was I claustrophobic, I wasn’t aware of how loud the MRI was until it started…..I did get that far….I think the whole experience lasted under 10 minutes which was long enough for me:) I must have been a real sight….a 4o ish year old woman, panic stricken, running out of a converted semi-trailer container, traveling MRI office thingy, high tailing it to my car!!! I have always known I was claustrophobic but I have never had to deal with it on that level before. Lynn @ Turnips 2 Tangerines

    1. Thank you for stopping by Lynn 🙂 I can only imagine what you had to go through in that ‘torture chamber’ 🙁

      1. Torture chamber is definitely the right word to describe it:) Good Luck at your next MRI….hopefully it will go better:) I am interested in the “tapping” thing~ I’m going to check that out right now~ Lynn @ Turnips 2 Tangerines

  10. I had the EXACT same experience you had — the longest 5 minutes of my life and that was in an “open air” MRI machine–I had a pinched nerve in my neck. The most horrible experience ever next to losing my daughter at Disneyland for 3 minutes.

    I, too, googled what could be done about my claustrophobia and I found the “cures” to be as bad as the problem. There were only things I wasn’t willing to do.

    Finding a cure became very important to me because once my claustrophobia was triggered, it appeared that my problem reared its ugly head at various inopportune times like staying in a hotel that had lowish ceilings, or watching a program on TV. Heck, even watching “Tangled” with the cave/underwater scene became a time of anxiety.

    What I am about to say next may make you start thinking that I am nothing more than a California nut BUT I have to say that I did find a cure to claustrophobia and although it did mean I had to do some boring and somewhat tedious work, I am so glad I found the technique and have used it with great success.

    What is this technique called? Tapping. Google tapping EFT. I highly recommend the process. Pamela Bruner is an excellent resource but so is Also, I see there’s an article on Huffington Post that now states that the American Psychological Association is offering education credits to Psychologists who want to learn EFT.

    Tapping is not hard and I am here to tell you that although I am not 100% free of my claustrophobia, I am 90% better and can now get on airplanes without any issue. The first time you tap, however, it may take up to a half hour or more for any relief.

    I recently used tapping at the dentist’s office when they kept one of those molds in my mouth too long. I was forgotten by the assistant and used EFT to bring my heart rate back to normal. I also used it on an airplane traveling from San Diego to Newark after seeing that there was some horrendous storm in New York.

    Give it a try — the only thing you’ve got to lose is your fear! Also, don’t pay to learn how to tap — you can get on YouTube and find videos about how to do it.

    Good luck!

    1. I will definitely check out ‘tapping’. I would really need it since they rescheduled my MRI to the end of this week 🙁 Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  11. Hello! I’m claustrophobic too. I’ve had open MRI’s, and it was still difficult. Thank you for hosting the “Tuesday Tea Party”. I am following you. Please follow me back. 😀

    All the best,


  12. It sounds like it was a terrible!! I don’t like being in huge crowds. I haven’t had a panic attack but I stress out when I am around big crowds of people. One of my children is afraid of heights.

  13. I think I’m claustrophobic too. I’ve realized it the first time I take an elevator when I was a kid, it made so uncomfortable, I felt like I can’t breathe. Now if possible, I always take the stairs. 😉

  14. I know you’ll learn to live with it. There are some fears we just can’t overcome and we just have to accept them as part of our lives,

  15. You poor thing! I don’t think I’m claustrophobic but I have a HUGE fear when it comes to driving over bridges and overpasses. My teen makes fun of me but I am always afraid of careening over the side. I probably saw it in a movie, lol!!

  16. Oh gosh this sounds terrible! I often wonder if our fears our our reactions to things change as we age due to hormonal shifts? I’m sure there no evidence of that but it’s just a thought. I have developed a fear of heights. The strange thing is that I’m not afraid of scaling heights myself but I absolutely can. It watch others do it. In real life or even in a movie my palms sweat, my fingers tingle and I get lightheaded. I know exactly where it came from as well. I saw a movie called Cliffhanger when I was young. There was a scene where a woman fell when mountain climbing. From that moment on I have not been able to watch anything with heights. My hands are sweating and my mouth is watering just typing this and thinking about it. So weird!

  17. This condition can be very scary, I wish you luck with this battle in the future. I know my husband can be stuck solid in a space due to the anxiety of the closed off area.

  18. I’ve had 3 MRI’s and I got through them by asking for prayer & reviewing Scripture I have memorized. I thank the Lord for the people & churches He has put me in that stressed the importance of memorizing God’s Word. I do want to say that the technician can be a big help to those who do not like the MRI experience. I had one technician stop in between each cycle in the MRI & tell me to move or cough or whatever I hadn’t been able to do before she spoke. That was very helpful.

  19. I don’t like people like getting in my space. You know like getting to close to you. I don’t like sitting on sofas.

  20. I know all to well about being claustrophobic. I have only had one panic attack in my life and that was climbing the smokies in Tenn. I didn’t even know what hit me. I like a big dumby went to Cades Cove in flip flops. Well there was a waterfall that was 2.5 miles one way, and I said sure I can handle the climb in these shoes. I got there ok and half way back it hit me after I twisted my ankle. I started hyperventilating. It totally freaked me out.

  21. i actually fall asleep in those things…but when i was around 13, my bedroom had been added on to our house and apparently not very well. i woke up one day and had ants crawling all over me and my bed…ever since then, my stomach churns and i get a sweaty
    feeling whenever i see ants.

  22. I have a case of claustrophobia as well, but it’s not too bad. I did fine getting MRI’s and such. Thanks for your contribution to the Kindle giveaway!!

  23. I am not claustrophobic, but I do fear bee’s. When I was younger I was stung on the head many times because I accidently stepped on a wood Bee nest trying to get down to the creek.. It made me very sick and I was throwing up over and over again..So I fear anything that stings!

  24. my kids trigger my fears!, i always am paranoid for their well being, and picturing the worst scenerios at the worst times, which is why i take an anti anxiety pill daily lol, but its worth those sweet kisses and tender hugs

  25. I have suffered from a fear of heights all my life, and when it finally stopped me from doing what I wanted to do (I went all the way to Israel and couldn’t climb Masada – biy was my husband angry!) I entered CBT. I tell you, it worked like a charm. I am still afraid, but when I have to deal with heights I can.

  26. Somehow I developed a mild fear of driving under overpasses. Maybe it stems from scenes on the news of overpass collapses onto cars under them. It just hits me when I’m about to drive under one when a semi or other big vehicle is going over at the same time.

  27. I think some people do not realize how bad claustrophobia can be. I have a friend who is claustrophobic and when she is put in under certain circumstances, she has bad panic attacks and she feels like she can’t breathe.

  28. Guys I’m a 6 feet tall muscular guy and never faced any fear of snakes, tiger or whatever unless it comes to a live or death matter. However, I used to avoid elevators regardless of the floors I need to ascend/descend but I never thought it is a fear of closed spaces. I belong to Pakistan and in my country it is quite common to abruptly have a power failure for hours without any standby arrangements (in most places). So I used to think it is just because of the uncertainty of the electricity availability – what if the elevator stops in the middle with no hope of getting off it for hours.

    Getting to the real point now, I got an opportunity to work in UAE and I was quite passionate about it. That company sent me the visa and tickets; I was about to fly in 12 hours and then something held me back.

    I got confused as what was happening to me but truly it was a killing feeling of being trapped in an airplane and I was visualizing with open eyes that I would be going to choke myself because of the suffocation that would happen in my flight. Please note that I have never flown in my life.

    It was palpable to afraid of this journey because it was my first time in an airplane and away from home but I got the fear of closed spaces rising in my mind and heart. Eventually, I cancelled everything got blacklisted by that company and stayed in my country (losing the life time opportunity). I think it was such an unfortunate instance happened to me and all because of the fear to sit in an airplane.

    My family tried to take my mind off those thoughts and to get me into the plane but I was thinking that I would have to stop the aircraft while taxing it would be a unique drama, embarrassment and all. These thoughts held me back and I didn’t step in the airplane. After Googling this issue I found out it is called Claustrophobia and I’m now looking to consult any specialist for it

    I’m a normal person, enjoy every aspect of life including everything except elevators and travelling through air. I don’t think I’m fearful for any closed room without windows or anything like that but I think I’m fearful when I think the situation is not in my control. Like trapped in an airplane or in elevator, where no one else can rescue me.

    I’d love to know if anyone has to say something for me..

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