Elevators have become a part of our day-to-day lives, so much so that not having an elevator can even lead to feelings of discomfort. However, elevators can be a cause of discomfort and intense anxiety for those who suffer from claustrophobia, a fear of enclosed places. Sometimes the symptoms of claustrophobia can be so intense that people choose to avoid elevators altogether.
The closed doors of the elevator, combined with people standing nearby can trigger feelings of being trapped and suffocation for people suffering from claustrophobia leading them to experience symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, dry mouth, headaches, dizziness etc. Sometimes people might also have a fear of the elevator. falling while they are inside it. Although experiencing claustrophobia in an elevator can be incredibly distressing, there are ways to manage and overcome it. They are:
Learn More About Elevators
One of the reasons why people suffering from claustrophobia might find it difficult to use elevators is uncertainty. They might not be aware of the safety precautions taken while constructing the elevator. Speaking to an elevator engineer regarding the safety measures inside the elevator might help to reduce the uncertainty. Learning about steps to take in case an elevator stops or shuts down can also help reduce uncertainty.
If you are required to use an elevator every day for your job or other purposes, plan ahead of time. You could pan about how you will spend your time in the elevator or how you will manage the symptoms of claustrophobia if they arise.
Charge Your Phone
This might sound odd, but make sure you carry a fully charged phone in an elevator. It can not only help you distract yourself but also help you reach out for help in case the elevator is stuck.
Accompany A Friend
Going into the elevator with a supportive friend, family member or colleague can make you feel emotionally safe which might help you deal with feelings of claustrophobia.
Practising positive self-talk like ‘I can get through this’ or ‘I am doing well; can help you distract yourself from anxiety-provoking thoughts while also boosting your confidence while being inside the elevator
- Practising Deep Breathing can help bring a sense of calm when someone experiences claustrophobia in an elevator.
- Visualizing a happy memory during the elevator journey can help to manage feelings of discomfort.
If claustrophobia or the fear of elevators falling is causing a significant disturbance in daily life along with intense emotions, one might consider seeking help from a trained mental health professional,
Long-Term Techniques to Treat Claustrophobia and The Fear Of Elevator Falling
Long-term treatment of elevator-related claustrophobia involves working with a trained mental health professional to overcome anxiety-provoking thoughts. The most effective therapeutic interventions are:
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
CBT helps individuals challenge their negative thoughts or the thoughts that might be causing the elevator-related discomfort. It also empowers them to replace these negative thoughts with more positive ones
Exposure therapy involves taking small steps to overcome claustrophobia related to elevators in the presence of the therapist. This might start with small steps like imagining yourself in the elevator, as you get more comfortable with the imagination, moving on to the next steps like using the elevator for a few seconds, etc. The therapist will also teach you relaxation techniques to manage emotions at each stage.
Dealing with claustrophobia in elevators can be frustrating and significantly limiting as well. However one can overcome it by self-help techniques such as learning more about elevators, positive self-talk and deep breathing and also with the help of evidence-based techniques such as CBT and Exposure Therapy.
- Are You Afraid of Getting Stuck in an Elevator? (n.d.). Verywell Mind. Retrieved December 14, 2023, from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-fear-of-elevators-2671765
- Elevator Phobia Therapy. (n.d.). Phobia-Panic-Anxiety Treatment Center. Retrieved December 14, 2023, from https://psychotherapy-center.com/counseling-issues/ovecoming-anxiety/phobias/elevator-phobia-therapy/
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