How can I cure my claustrophobia?
April 25, 2008 2:48 PM Subscribe
Can I cure my adult-onset claustrophobia by myself, without the help of a therapist?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I am a female in my mid 30s who never suffered from any sort of claustrophobia until a few months ago. I was at a dinner in a very crowded dining hall- to make a long story short, I was in effect "trapped" at my table because I was sitting in the corner and the chairs on either side of me were tightly against the wall with no wiggle room- meaning that there was no way I could have gotten out until all the people next to me got up and left, and I would have been trapped there for at least an hour, until the end of the meal.
The more I thought about this, the panickier I got. Finally, I got very light-headed- I can only describe the feeling in my head as my brain screaming, odd as that sounds. I knew that if I didn't get out of there I would pass out, even though I have never passed out in my life. Luckily, only a few people had sat down at that point so I was able to push my way out to a seat on the other side of the table, where I was fine.
That was my first ever experience with claustrophobia, but it was the start of something terrible. Ever since it happened, I have been thinking about it and making myself crazy- and making the claustrophobia worse. I can no longer be in any situation where I am "trapped"- for example, I was on the bus sitting next to the window- someone sat next to me and after a few minutes I couldn't stand the trapped feeling anymore and had to switch to another seat.
It's not being in a small room that bothers me- it's being effectively trapped by other people. I've gone to movies my whole life and sat in the middle of a row with no problem- but after trying this recently, I had to move to an aisle seat because the trapped feeling starting driving me crazy again. I felt that lightheadedness, that "brain screaming" feeling again and couldn't sit there a minute longer.
I don't want to live this way. In a few weeks I have an airplane trip planned. You know after the plane lands, when everyone is standing up, waiting for the door to open? The thought of being in that situation, "trapped" by a planefull of people, scares the hell out of me. Just the thought of it makes my heart beat faster, and my face feels flushed- the precursor to the lightheaded, "brainscreaming" feeling. What's worse, I'm starting to get worried about being trapped on the plane, even when everyone is sitting down, which means the claustrophobia must be getting worse. I have been on hundreds of flights and have NEVER had this fear before.
Is there anything I can do to get rid of this horrible phobia? I'd rather do it on my own as I'm sure a therapist would be very expensive, though it might come to that one day if I can't beat this thing.
How can I get rid of this phobia?