Claustrophobia is a specific phobia and also a form of anxiety. It is the fear of being in closed places. Claustrophobia can be extremely distressing and have a significant negative impact on the lives of people. However, it is also important to note that claustrophobia can be treated with the help of therapy, medication, and self-help strategies. This article aims to discuss the different ways to cope with claustrophobia.

Avoidance as a coping strategy for Claustrophobia

People often use avoidance to cope with claustrophobia because it provides a quick escape from feelings of fear and anxiety associated with closed spaces. While it might bring immediate relief, the problem is that the more we avoid these situations, the scarier they become in our minds. This not only increases anxiety but also stops us from learning better ways to deal with it. Thus, avoidance might provide immediate relief but prove to be an ineffective coping strategy in the long run.

Effective Strategies for Coping with Claustrophobia

Coping with claustrophobia can be difficult; however, several strategies can be used to overcome claustrophobia. Some of them are:

  • Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises might sound odd to some people, as breathing is considered a normal and automatic process. However, anxiety can lead people to take short breaths, leading to feelings of suffocation or lack of oxygen that might worsen the symptoms of claustrophobia. Deep breathing increases the oxygen supply in the body, which leads to a lowered heart rate and a sense of calm. Thus, breathing exercises can be effective for coping with claustrophobia.

  • Grounding Exercises

Grounding exercises are a way to bring your attention back to the present moment by becoming aware of your surroundings. Focusing on the environment distracts us from stressful situations and promotes relaxation. One way to ground yourself is to focus your attention on one object in the environment and describe it in detail.

  • Calming Imagery

Closing your eyes and visualizing your favourite place in detail can be an effective coping strategy for claustrophobia, as it allows you to focus your attention on something pleasant. As you go deeper into the pleasing imagery, the mind experiences relaxation.

  • Positive Self-Talk

Using positive self-talk or affirmation like ‘I know this is difficult, but it will pass’ can help you come back or be at peace in stressful or difficult situations.

  • Seek support

Seeking support from close friends and family is important to cope with claustrophobia. Having the support of non-judgmental people makes you feel emotionally safe and can help you vent and talk about your struggles.

  • Prepare in advance

Make a list of things that you can do to feel safe and calm when claustrophobia feels overwhelming. Keep this list as a resource on your phone so that you are reminded of your coping strategies. You can also prepare a small kit of things you might need in case you get stuck in a closed space. This kit can be a coping resource.

Treatment of Claustrophobia

Apart from the coping strategies explored above, several other therapeutic interventions can be used to treat claustrophobia. They are:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT focuses on identifying unhelpful thought patterns that might be contributing to claustrophobia and replacing them with more realistic and positive thoughts.

  • Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy involves exposing yourself to difficult situations and learning to relax in the presence of a trained professional

  • Medications

Medications are prescribed by psychiatrists but they may be required in cases of extreme difficulties. Generally, anti-anxiety medications are prescribed for claustrophobia.


It is important to note that the treatment of claustrophobia changes depending on the unique needs of an individual. The treatment usually involves a combination of all the strategies mentioned above. It is advisable to consult a trained psychologist or psychiatrist to assess a person’s symptoms before finalizing a treatment plan.


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Dhruva Koranne

Dhruva Koranne has completed his Masters in Applied Psychology from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, BALM. He has been practicing as a counsellor since 2020 and works to create a safe space for clients where they can open up. In addition to this, Dhruva loves researching and studying about upcoming theories in the field of Psychology. Connect with him on Linkedin