AskDefine | Define claustrophobia

Dictionary Definition

claustrophobia n : a morbid fear of being closed in a confined space

User Contributed Dictionary



claustrum "a shut in place," from claudere "to close" + Greek phobos "fear." First attested in the British Medical Journal.



  1. The fear of closed, tight places.


fear of closed, tight places
  • Breton: klostrofobiezh
  • Danish: klaustrofobi
  • Dutch: claustrofobie
  • Esperanto: klaŭstrofobio
  • Finnish: klaustrofobia
  • French: claustrophobie
  • German: Platzangst, Klaustrophobie
  • Greek: κλειστοφοβία
  • Hebrew: קלאוסטרופוביה
  • Irish: clástrafóibe
  • Italian: claustrofobia
  • Japanese: 閉所恐怖症
  • Manx: feoh chionney
  • Norwegian: klaustrofobi
  • Polish: klaustrofobia
  • Portuguese: claustrofobia
  • Russian: клаустрофобия
  • Serbian: клаустрофобија
  • Spanish: claustrofobia
  • Swedish: klaustrofobi, cellskräck

Extensive Definition

Claustrophobia is an anxiety disorder that involves the fear of enclosed or confined spaces. Claustrophobes may suffer from panic attacks, or fear of having a panic attack, in situations such as being in elevators, trains, or aircraft.
Conversely, people who are prone to having panic attacks will often develop claustrophobia. If a panic attack occurs while they are in a confined space, then the claustrophobe fears not being able to escape the situation. Those suffering from claustrophobia might find it difficult to breathe in enclosed spaces. Like many other disorders, claustrophobia can sometimes develop due to a traumatic incident in childhood.
Claustrophobia can be treated in similar ways to other anxiety disorders, with a range of treatments including cognitive behavior therapy and the use of anti-anxiety medication. Hypnosis is an alternative treatment for claustrophobia.
The name claustrophobia comes from the Latin word claustrum which means "a bolt, a place shut in" and the Greek word phobos meaning "fear".


It was found that 5-10.6% of people screened before an MRI scan had claustrophobia. Furthermore, it was found that 7% of patients had unidentified claustrophobia, and had to terminate the scanning procedure prematurely. 30% reported milder distress due to the necessity to lie in a confined space for a long time. For specific phobias in general, there is a lifetime prevalence rate of 7.2%-11.3%. Other forms of Claustrophobia include conditions such as Agoraphobia and panic attacks.

Colloquial usage

The term "claustrophobic" usually describes claustrophobic people or feelings of claustrophobia. However, in informal conversation, the term has also been used to describe enclosed spaces or situations that may induce feelings of claustrophobia. For example, one could say, "Crowded elevators are claustrophobic."

See also

claustrophobia in Danish: Klaustrofobi
claustrophobia in German: Klaustrophobie
claustrophobia in Spanish: Claustrofobia
claustrophobia in Esperanto: Klaŭstrofobio
claustrophobia in Basque: Klaustrofobia
claustrophobia in French: Claustrophobie
claustrophobia in Indonesian: Klaustrofobia
claustrophobia in Italian: Claustrofobia
claustrophobia in Hebrew: קלאוסטרופוביה
claustrophobia in Georgian: კლაუსტროფობია
claustrophobia in Dutch: Claustrofobie
claustrophobia in Japanese: 閉所恐怖症
claustrophobia in Norwegian: Klaustrofobi
claustrophobia in Polish: Klaustrofobia
claustrophobia in Portuguese: Claustrofobia
claustrophobia in Russian: Клаустрофобия
claustrophobia in Slovak: Klaustrofóbia
claustrophobia in Serbian: Клаустрофобија
claustrophobia in Finnish: Klaustrofobia
claustrophobia in Swedish: Klaustrofobi
claustrophobia in Chinese: 幽闭恐惧症
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