JUN 02, 2017 7:18 AM PDT

Why are you claustrophobic?


Do you hate being in small, enclosed spaces? If you feel entrapped in subways, elevators, rooms without windows, tunnels, or caves, you could suffer from claustrophobia. The condition was first described by physician Benjamin Ball in 1879 and since then it has been seen in more and more people. The National Health Service in the UK estimates about 10% of their population deals with some form of the phobia, with about 4% suffering from full blown panic attacks triggered by small spaces.

Although science has yet to fully understand why the fear develops, a study published in Translational Psychiatry in 2013 reported that a single mutation on gene GPM6A might cause claustrophobia. Or at least it causes claustrophobia-like behavior in mice. But no matter what causes it, claustrophobia can be difficult to live with, because there is no formal medicine or treatment for the phobia. Instead, those with space-induced anxiety can practice breathing deeply, counting down from 100, lightly slapping their face, or other techniques to distract them when experiencing symptoms. Exposure therapy is also a way that those with intense panic attacks can try to manage their fear.
About the Author
BA Environmental Studies
Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
DEC 10, 2020
Plants & Animals
3M Helps Solve Polar Bear Tracking Problem
DEC 10, 2020
3M Helps Solve Polar Bear Tracking Problem
As climate change continues to alter the Arctic landscape, polar bear research becomes more urgent. Observing animals in ...
DEC 11, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Cosmic Expansion: Universe Stretches, We don't
DEC 11, 2020
Cosmic Expansion: Universe Stretches, We don't
Physicists believe that we exist in an expanding universe. But what does that mean? Do our habitats, bodies, and atoms & ...
DEC 12, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Superhighways in Space Enable Super Fast Travel Between Planets
DEC 12, 2020
Superhighways in Space Enable Super Fast Travel Between Planets
Astronomers from Serbia have found that invisible structures created by gravitational interaction in our Solar System ge ...
FEB 09, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Scientists Spotlight Dangers of Ocean Noise Pollution
FEB 09, 2021
Scientists Spotlight Dangers of Ocean Noise Pollution
Many ocean species use sound to communicate and survive. Sound is a crucial communication method since vision is limited ...
FEB 10, 2021
Plants & Animals
Is the Nano-Chameleon the World's Smallest Reptile Species?
FEB 10, 2021
Is the Nano-Chameleon the World's Smallest Reptile Species?
Say “hello!” to the nano-chameleon, a top contender for the world’s smallest reptile. According to the ...
MAR 09, 2021
Plants & Animals
Sea Slug Shows Extreme Case of Regeneration
MAR 09, 2021
Sea Slug Shows Extreme Case of Regeneration
Some of the most interesting—and possibly strangest—scientific discoveries happen by accident. According to ...
Loading Comments...