Treating claustrophobia

Most people with a phobia are fully aware that they have one. Many people live with claustrophobia without having it formally diagnosed and take great care to avoid confined spaces.

However, getting help from your GP and a specialist with expertise in behavioural therapy, such as a psychologist, can often be beneficial.

Claustrophobiacan be successfully treated and cured by gradually being exposed to the situation that causes your fear. This is known as desensitisation or self-exposure therapy.You could try this yourself using self-help techniques , or you could do it with the help of a professional.

Cognitive behavioural therapy(CBT) is often very effective for people with phobias . CBT is a talking therapy that explores your thoughts, feelings and behaviour and develops practical ways of effectively dealing with your phobia.

Speak to your GP to find out if CBT would be suitable for you and whetherit'savailable on the NHS in your area.It could last up to an hour, so, if you're driving, you may need to pull over and park where it's safe to do so. Don't rush to a place of safety.

During theattack, remind yourself that the frightening thoughts and sensations are a sign of panic and will eventually pass. Focus on something non-threatening and visible, such as the time passing on your watch, or items in a supermarket.

The symptoms of a panic attack usually peak within 10 minutes, with most attacks lasting between five minutesand half an hour.

They can also put you in touch with other people who've had similar experiences.

Anxiety Alliance runs a helpline (0845 296 7877, that's open every day from 10am to 10pm). Calls are charged at the local rate. You can contact Anxiety Care UK by email for advice and support.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018