The Chemistry of Claustrophobia


Claustrophobia is an anxiety disorder in which you fear small and tight places. Many people don’t know much about Claustrophobia but it is a serious and common phobia that can control a person’s life.

Composition of ...

    • Norepinephrine C8H11NO3
    • Dopamine C8H11NO2
    • Serotonin C10H12N20
    • Cortisol C21H30O5

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

    • Serotonin is a chemical that is manufactured in the brain and intestines. Its chemical formula is C10H12N20. 80 - 90% of serotonin is in the gastrointestinal tract. It is used in antidepressants to treat depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and social phobias.

Dopamine is an organic chemical with a chemical formula of C8H11NO2. Dopamine is produced in many areas of the brain. It also acts as a hormone.

Chemistry's Role

Serotonin and Dopamine can both be found in the small amygdala in your brain. The small amygdala has direct correlation to the brain stem which is directly related to fear and anxiety. In anxious situations it is shown that males produce an increase in serotonin receptors on the small amygdala whereas females lost them. This makes females more susceptible to being affect by a stressful situation.

Background Research

Claustrophobia is an anxiety disorder in which you fear small and tight places. People who are Claustrophobic have panic attacks when they are feeling entrapped. Symptoms of these panic attacks related to Claustrophobia are sweating, accelerated heart rate, hyperventilation, shaking, light-headedness, nausea, fainting, and fear of actual harm or illness. People who are Claustrophobic try to avoid these situations any way they can which can lead this disorder into controlling their life. Most people who suffer from Claustrophobia have had a traumatic experience which led to them being claustrophobic. Others, however, can be Claustrophobic from having certain personality traits or from inheriting behaviors from their parents. A small percentage of people with this phobia will not get treatment. Even though the symptoms are not life threatening, they can be unbearably intense. Some claustrophobics might turn to dealing with the symptoms through drug and alcohol use.


Understanding chemistry

Reasons and treatment for claustrophobia

Causes, symptoms and treatments

Normality of Claustrophobia

Claustrophobia and addiction

Types of Claustrophobia

Amygdalae in the human brain

Amygdala and emotional responses


About the Author

Elizabeth LaRance is a junior at Billings Senior High School. Elizabeth enjoys science, especially as it relates to medical care. Elizabeth plans to obtain her EMT certificate during her senior year of high school. After high school, she plans to pursue a career in medical school. Elizabeth would like to live where it is warm because she hates the snow.