Elevator phobia: symptoms, causes and how to deal with them

The fear of feeling locked in a small space can appear at any time in our life. However, when this fear is exaggerated and prevents us from developing our daily lives normally, we may be faced with a phobia. This is what happens with the phobia in the elevators.

Throughout this article, we will describe what this specific type of phobia is, along with its symptoms and causes, and what the person who suffers from it can do to deal with the discomfort it causes.

    What is elevator phobia?

    The phobia of elevators manifests itself in an exacerbated, irrational and uncontrollable fear of this type of machinery. However, even though its symptoms are the same as those of any other specific anxiety disorder, fear of elevators is not considered a phobia per se, but is classified under two other very common phobias: claustrophobia and acrophobia.

    Claustrophobia consists of an irrational fear of confined or confined spaces or enclosures, While acrophobia is an excessive fear of heights.

    Understanding these two concepts, it is much easier for us to understand what the fear of elevators is. In cases where the person begins to experience symptoms of anxiety the moment they go up an elevator, or even the knowledge that they are going to climb, this is a fear inherent in claustrophobia; due to the reduced space in which the person is located.

    However, when this irrational fear arises when you think a certain height has been reached, acrophobia is the basis of fear in elevators. This fear tends to increase in elevators that have glass walls, as the person experiences a greater sensation of being suspended in the air.

      What symptoms are you experiencing?

      Regardless of the basis or origin of elevator phobia, people who suffer from it they tend to experience excessive, irrational and uncontrollable fear in elevators, Elevators or forklifts, perceiving an intense reaction of anxiety whenever they are exposed to the possibility of having to ride one of them.

      The main consequence of this phobia is that the person tends to adopt all kinds of behaviors, acts and behaviors aimed at avoiding the dreaded situation or escaping from it as soon as possible.

      Because these devices are found in virtually every place, the phobia of elevators can become very annoying and sometimes very disabling, causing significant interference in a person’s daily life. However, as we will see, there are a number of guidelines to follow to better tolerate these anxious situations or, in the event of a major problem, very effective psychological treatments.

      Since it is an irrational fear of a specific object or situation, the phobia in the elevators shares the symptomatology with the rest of the specific phobias, Being the most characteristic manifestation of high levels of anxiety in people suffering from this phobia.

      Although the number of symptoms and the intensity of these may vary from person to person, in order for this fear to be classified as phobic, the person must exhibit some of the symptoms of the three categories associated with phobias: physical symptoms , symptoms cognitive and behavioral symptoms.

      1. Physical symptoms

      Because this is an anxious symptomatology, before the onset of the phobic stimulus, the person usually experiences a series of alterations and changes in their body. The origin of these changes comes from an overactivity of the autonomic nervous system, And can generate the following effects:

      • Heart rate increased.
      • Acceleration of breathing.
      • Sensation of suffocation and shortness of breath.
      • Muscle tension.
      • Increased levels of sweating.
      • Headache.

      • Gastric problems.
      • Dizziness.
      • Nausea or vomiting.
      • Fainting and loss of consciousness.

      2. Cognitive symptoms

      These physical symptoms are accompanied by a series of intrusive and irrational ideas about the supposed danger of elevators. These distorted beliefs play a dual role as they give rise to physical symptoms and also powers when they arise because the person cannot get these ideas out of his head.

      These cognitive symptoms include:

      • Intrusive and uncontrollable beliefs and ideas on a phobic stimulus.
      • Obsessive speculation.
      • Catastrophic images of possible scenarios or situations.
      • Fear of losing control.
      • Feeling unreal.

      3. Behavioral symptoms

      The third group of symptoms is one in which all the behaviors or patterns of behavior that appear in response to the phobic stimulus are included. These behaviors aim to avoid the feared situation (Avoidance behaviors) or escape once the person has already encountered the phobic stimulus (escape behaviors).

      In avoidance behaviors, the person performs all possible behaviors or acts that allow him to avoid the possibility of having to deal with the stimulus. In this case, it may be going up the stairs instead of taking the elevator, regardless of the number of floors.

      As for the exhaust pipes, they appear when the person is already inside the device, inside which he will do everything necessary to get out as quickly as possible. For example, compulsively press the button to open the door.

      What is the cause?

      Trying to determine the specific source of phobias can be a daunting task complicated, like many times there is not a single trigger for the disorder. But the person feels a fear of the elevators but does not know why.

      However, there are theories that suggest that a genetic predisposition of the person, coupled with the presence of some traumatic event or situation related in some way to elevators, will most likely trigger the onset. of this phobia.

      How to deal with this fear?

      There are a number of keys or guidelines that can help people with severe fear of elevators avoid increased feelings of anxiety. Some of these guidelines are:

      • breathe slowly, Taking deep breaths and exhaling slowly to decrease the increase in heart rate and avoid feeling dizzy and suffocating.
      • Try not to engage in compulsive escape behaviors such as forcing the door, as this will further increase your anxiety level.
      • Go accompanied or ask for help if necessary or we find ourselves very ill. Another person’s business gives us more security.
      • Try to keep your mind occupied during the trip.

      Are there psychological treatments?

      In cases where none of the above guidelines work and the fear is highly disabling or distressing, psychological treatment may be initiated for this phobia. In this intervention, psychotherapy is used to modify or eliminate erroneous thoughts and beliefs which end up causing the rest of the symptomatology.

      In addition, this psychotherapy is accompanied by phobia treatment techniques such as live exposure or systematic desensitization and relaxation training.

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