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Like one, that on a lonesome road Doth walk in fear and dread, And having once turned round, walks on, And turns no more his head; Because he knows a frightful fiend Doth close behind him tread.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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Claustrophobia

Fear of confined spaces

Information on Claustrophobia

Claustrophobia is defined by an irrational fear of and reaction to closed or tight spaces. Claustrophobic individuals may find themselves feeling short of breath, shaking, nauseated and light headed within elevators, closed rooms and crowded places. As soon as someone with this disorder enters a room, they mark all exit points and always settle near them. When these symptoms are escalated they can cause panic attacks. The person fears that they will be crushed, suffocated or lose consciousness if they don't escape. Sometimes, sufferers turn to the avoidance technique of dealing with their condition. However, this method of coping only leads to a progression of symptoms and a worsening of the disease. Many believe that claustrophobia is a learned disease acquired when a person experienced panic attacks while being in an uncomfortable, scary or tight-spaced situation. Treatments for claustrophobia include different methods of psychotherapy. Flooding exposes the patient to his phobia and hopes they no longer express irrational fears after they realize that they came out of it unharmed. Counter-conditioning teaches the patient relaxation and visualization techniques while gradually exposing the patient to the trigger. These techniques can be used to maintain or regain control in the face of a panic attack. Additional treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis and anti-depressant, beta blocker and tranquilizer medications. Support from family and friends is essential for any phobia treatment. The length of treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms but usually consists of 8-10 weeks of outpatient consultation.

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