"Natural claustrophobia self treatment to provide relief from stress and anxiety. Aids in claustrophobic episodes (elevators, MRIs, commuting, airline travel, trains, crowds and other situations which cause a feeling of being closed in) providing a discrete natural remedy to overcome feelings of fear and anxiety."

How do we cope?

Posted: May 18th, 2011 | Author: Shawn_Bee | Filed under: Claustrophobia | No Comments »

Everyone has heard of a coping mechanism. It is how we adopt to a situation, whether it is an activity we do not want to do or one with a bad experience associated with it. Per Wikipedia, the definition of coping is: the process of managing taxing circumstances, expending effort to solve personal and interpersonal problems, and seeking “to master, minimize, reduce or tolerate stress” or conflict. Some people try to do a routine before such a situation which alleviates the “angst”, “fear” or “discomfort” associated with the situation. In medical terms, we often try to “desensitize” a patient to a discomforting situation through methods which introduce the offensive stimulus in a small manner and increasing such exposure until a patient can “cope” and face such situations with reduced negative emotional response.

Some people use a pre-event routine as well to enhance a situation. Athletes prepare for their sport with a ritual. Even recently, we learned of two tennis players independently suggesting certain non-tennis, physical activity enhanced their tennis performance with heightened hormones/adrenaline. I will let you look into Andy Murray and Francesca Schiavone to learn about this activity. Even Ryan Reynolds discussed his “coping” for the movie Buried by having telephone access to a reassuring friend while filming the scenes in a coffin.

So, why do I bring this topic up today? Those who do not suffer from claustrophobia most likely have routine and successful coping mechanisms. However, for many claustrophobics, their fear is based in an ‘irrational’ response to a situation. This irrational component to the definition of claustrophobia makes coping difficult. Medications do not handle the ‘irrational” and desensitizing is only mildly successful. With the use of calmspace™, a person has control (a basis for rationale behavior) and the neurologic stimulus is believed to signal relief to the situation.
Please let me know some of your unique coping mechanisms or even attempts to find a routine which minimizes the discomfort associated with your claustrophobia or other situational anxiety. I will share the best responses I receive.

Until next time…

Dr. B.

Perception of fear & claustrophobia

Posted: May 9th, 2011 | Author: Shawn_Bee | Filed under: Claustrophobia | No Comments »

What happens when you drive past a police car? Often, you slow down, check your speed limit and gauge whether you were “within acceptable limits.” For me, and as I guess for many of you, this behavior is rooted in the past experience of getting a speeding ticket and/or the fear of receiving one currently. This fear is not rationale, if I am driving within the law, and oftentimes, unfounded as the police officer does not begin his/her pursuit of me. But, for those of you who are street racers, perhaps this fear is well triggered.

So how do we fear? Do we ‘fear” alike? No, but we can derive some commonality between how I fear and you fear, etc. According to Jamie Molphy, who wrote “Overcome Fear- How Do We Control Fear?” Fear is a natural response to life’s trials and tribulations. Unfortunately, many of us overestimate the size of the perceived threat which has caused this fear and set about stressing our mind and body to its limits, without actually considering the probability that this fearful event will neither come to pass, or be as apocalyptic as we had thought.

As stated above, fear is actually a natural response to a perceived danger or risk which may occur in the future. As such it is impossible to totally alleviate. However, it is possible to overcome fear and reduce the amount of stress caused by the realization of such a threat by immediately analyzing the threat and formulate some solutions or options in advance.

However, claustrophobics do not have the ability to apply this rationality to their inciting fear and oftentimes become consumed by the situation. Medical intervention works with anxiety and claustrophobia patients by desensitizing them to the situation or circumstance which creates the fear. Many practitioners will try methods of confrontation or medication to numb the response. On occasion, this method works. However, many claustrophobic individuals and those who suffer from anxiety shy away from medical intervention. Additionally, there is no proof of a successful solution. Avoidance both of doctors and the fear inducing situation becomes the approach.

We all struggle with convincing ourselves that the threat is only perceived. Those who suffer from claustrophobia often cannot overcome this perception. We believe that the use of calmspace signals to the claustrophobic that the situation is not so dire or threatening. Let me know your experience.
Until next time,
Dr. B.

BUSINESS CLASS: Fighting flight fright | Baltimore Sun

Posted: April 23rd, 2011 | Author: Shawn_Bee | Filed under: Claustrophobia | No Comments »

It’s a safe guess that low-level flying anxiety is far more common than anyone knows or admits. So I’ll admit it: I don’t like flying. The process is too laborious, in too small a space with too many people. Less on my mind is the possibility of falling out of the sky, but I suppose such morbidity flashes through my thoughts now and again.

Read more here.

How Do We Smell: (part 2 of 2)

Posted: April 11th, 2011 | Author: Shawn_Bee | Filed under: Claustrophobia | No Comments »

According to Discovery Health, smell is often our first response to stimuli. It alerts us to fire before we see flames. It makes us recoil before we taste rotten food. But, although smell is a basic sense, it’s also at the forefront of neurological research. We do not know how we specifically smell, and the resulting behavioral signals.

Smell is a chemical sense detected by sensory cells called chemoreceptors. When an odorant stimulates the chemoreceptors in the nose that detect smell, they pass on electrical impulses to our brain. The brain then interprets patterns in electrical activity as specific odors and olfactory sensation becomes perception — something we can recognize as smell.

Smell is also intimately linked to the parts of the brain that process emotion and associative learning. The olfactory bulb in the brain, which sorts sensation into perception, is part of the limbic system — a system that includes the amygdala and hippocampus, structures vital to our behavior, mood and memory. This link to the brain’s emotional center makes smell a fascinating frontier in neuroscience and behavioral science (including behavioral modification).

When an air current sweeps an odorant up through the nostrils, the molecules land on the olfactory epithelium — the center of olfactory sensation. As said earlier, the epithelium occupies only about one square inch of the superior portion of the nasal cavity. Mucus secreted by the olfactory gland coats the epithelium’s surface and helps dissolve odorants.

While receptor cells respond to olfactory stimuli and result in the perception of smell, trigeminal nerve fibers in parallel in the olfactory epithelium respond to pain. When you smell something caustic like ammonia, receptor cells pick up odorants while trigeminal nerve fibers account for the sharp sting that makes you immediately recoil.

Axel and Buck, winners of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology, discovered a large gene family — 1,000 genes, or 3 percent of the human total — that coded for olfactory receptor types. They found that every olfactory receptor cell has only one type of receptor. Each receptor type can detect a small number of related molecules and responds to some with greater intensity than others. Essentially, the researchers discovered that receptor cells are extremely specialized to particular odors.

Axel and Buck also found that each olfactory receptor type sends its electrical impulse to a particular microregion of the olfactory bulb. The microregion, or glomerulus, that receives the information then passes it on to other parts of the brain. The brain interprets the “odorant patterns” produced by activity in the different glomeruli as smell. There are 2,000 glomeruli in the olfactory bulb — twice as many microregions as receptor cells — allowing us to perceive a multitude of smells.

Olfactory system, receptors

Image courtesy Nobelprize.org

An illustration of how receptors function in the olfactory system

How this smell turns into a signal to behave remains unclear. I will look into the research in the future.

How does calmspace™ make you behave? Let me know.
Until next time…
Dr. B.

How do we smell (part 1 of 2)

Posted: March 29th, 2011 | Author: Shawn_Bee | Filed under: Claustrophobia | Tags: , , | No Comments »

This is not to suggest that we need to find new deodorant or aftershave… but I want to share some science with you regarding how we scientifically smell and process odor signals.

We consider smell to be a very direct sense. Molecules which trigger the sense of smell must reach your nose. Touch on the other hand can occur at your hand or the back of your leg. As molecules trigger receptors in the nose which signals the brain to process and differentiate smell. Therefore, everything you smell gives off molecules–whether it is Cinnabons®, vinegar, perfume or garbage. Those molecules are described as light and “volatile” (easy to evaporate) chemicals that float through the air and into your nose. For instance, bread emits a smell as it can easily change structure, becoming harder with toasting, softer with moisture, etc. It is considered composed of “volatile” molecules. On the other hand, a steel rod has no smell because nothing evaporates from it — steel is a non-volatile solid.

Now, let’s describe the anatomy of smell sensation. According to Discovery Health, at the top of your nasal passages behind your nose, there is a patch of special neurons about the size of a postage stamp. These neurons are unique in that they are out in the open where they can come into contact with the air. They have hair-like projections called cilia that increase their surface area. An odor molecule binds to these cilia to trigger the neuron and cause you to perceive a smell.

From Molecular Biology of the Cell:

Humans can distinguish more than 10,000 different smells (odorants), which are detected by specialized olfactory receptor neurons lining the nose…. It is thought that there are hundreds of different olfactory receptors, each encoded by a different gene and each recognizing different odorants.

Each of the hundreds of receptors are encoded by a specific gene. If your DNA is missing a gene, or if the gene is damaged, it can cause you to be unable to detect a certain smell.

When you smell many fruits or flowers, what you smell are esters evaporating from the fruit or flower. Esters are organic molecules. For example, the ester that gives a banana its smell is called isoamyl acetate, and the formula for it is CH3COOC5H11. We can now make artificial esters, which is how artificial flavors evolved.

Although calmspace™ is all natural, it seemingly is the esters associated with vanilla and lavender which we smell. We still need to understand how smell associates with behavior. I will look into it and report back soon.

Until next time…
Dr. B.

Symptoms and triggers of claustrophobia…

Posted: March 9th, 2011 | Author: Dr. Michael Beaubaire | Filed under: Claustrophobia | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

Many medical professionals list the following as symptoms associated with a claustrophobic episode:

  • sweating
  • accelerated heartbeat
  • nausea
  • fainting
  • light-headedness
  • shaking
  • hyperventilation
  • a fear of actual imminent physical harm

Not all symptoms develop, some are more prevalent than others and most of the above occur in a wide range of experiences. For example, overexertion in exercise can lead to all of the above except for the last point, fear of actual imminent physical harm. What is important to distinguish, is what behavior or situation creates these anxiety related symptoms whereas a non-claustrophobic person would not have such heightened senses. Furthermore, the fear of actual imminent physical harm does not necessarily diagnose one as claustrophobic if the fear is genuine. Likewise, a claustrophobic may have such a fear heightened by their own anxiety, and the fear is real. The point is that the symptoms need to be evaluated not in a vacuum, but collectively along with how they arise in individuals.

Claustrophobia is defined as a situational phobia, whereas a person feels panic resulting from being in enclosed spaces. It is considered situational because an event/encounter trigger aresponse characterized by many of the above listed symptoms.

The following are some common triggers/responses/behaviors for individuals suffering from claustrophobia

  • Being inside a room, the patient will look for an exit.
  • Being inside a car, the person will avoid driving on the highway or major roads, in heavy traffic for fear of being trapped/stuck.
  • Being inside a building, the individual will avoid taking elevators
  • Being at a party: the sufferer will stand near a door
  • Being on an airplane
  • While undergoing an MRI or CAT scan.

As the list reveals, many claustrophobic sufferers attempt to ameliorate their anxiety by having an “exit” or avoidance behavior. Where such mitigating reactions are limited, the anxiety to the situation is likely heightened, such as being in an airplane or in a diagnostic medical test.
Please share with me some of the symptoms you feel when encountering a claustrophobia and anxiety inducing event and what specific situation triggers such feelings.

Until Next Time,
Dr. B.

Emotions: Fear, Frustration and Loneliness

Posted: March 8th, 2011 | Author: Dr. Michael Beaubaire | Filed under: Claustrophobia | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Recently, I was on a conference call and became quite frustrated. My message was not being heard, and one of the participants made me feel “trapped.” This feeling escalated my frustration. I don’t want to belittle the physical feelings of being trapped that many claustrophobics experience, or equate my frustration with what a claustrophobic feels due to their ailment, but I do want to explore the different emotional responses that a claustrophobic person endures in a frightening situation, or tries avoiding to the best of their ability.

The emotions that claustrophobic individuals feel are not unique to only claustrophobia. The distinction is what triggers these feelings repeatedly and how the same range of feelings arise. For example, a claustrophobic individual will feel fear, anxiety, and stress each time they confront a triggering episode. Non-claustrophobic individuals can feel stress or feel anxiety without fear. We all, or at least most of us, have the capacity to feel frightened, uncomfortable, stressed, etc. The difference is the intensity and causes of such feelings, their frequency and the associated situation which triggers these emotions.

The common emotion triggering an episode is fear. This fear is characterized as being incapable of escaping from a tight spot which to non-claustrophobics is not as agitating. From this fear, frustration develops, and can lead to loneliness as one avoids common activities and isolates them from approaching such situations. For example, if you are afraid of elevators and work where you take an elevator to your floor, how do you manage each day? When colleagues want to go to lunch and take an elevator down, do you walk? Do you find a way to endure, does this activity become less frequent because of the physical response (sweating, quickened breathing) associated with this emotional response? You become agitated as these feelings escalate, as you cannot understand why this happens and cannot control it. Underlying many claustrophobics and phobias in general, is lack of control.

How do you handle such encounters? As a non-claustrophobic, I think I fight through my fear/frustration, but specifically what I do is unclear. Do I do deep breathing? Do I visualize a safe place and/or less stressful environment? What else do I do unconsciously to diminish my anxiety? Well, I will have to think about it more intently. I realize what I did regarding the situation on the phone call…I ended the call.

Until next time,
Dr. B

About Dr. Michael Beaubaire

Posted: March 6th, 2011 | Author: Dr. Michael Beaubaire | Filed under: Claustrophobia | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Hi. I’m Dr. Michael Beaubaire, Medical Director for Healthy Brands Group.

I received my Medical Degree from Northwestern University Medical School. I also have degrees in Finance and Biological Basis of Behavior both from the the Wharton School of Finance and School of Arts & Sciences from the University of Pennsylvania. I have varied experience in healthcare as a patient, practitioner, consultant, and executive.

There have been numerous studies done on the effectiveness of different methods of treating the effects of claustrophobia. The following is a non exhaustive list of published research titles on different relations of scent and behavior.

  • The effects of the inhalation method using essential oils on blood pressure and stress responses of clients with essential hypertension
  • Reduction of mental stress with lavender odorant.
  • The effect of aroma inhalation method on stress response of nursing students.

We can include studies on aroma and claustrophobia as our website suggests with the Sloan Kettering trial and response to enduring MRIs. In essence (no pun to our proprietary blend of essential oils), behavior and smell are connected. The specific details may actually define medical science-the search for further understanding of the body and how it works. Nevertheless we see people feel and react to smell. We have shown that our calmspace scents at Healthy Brands provide relief to those suffering from claustrophobia allowing these individuals to overcome/participate in situations which previously elevated their stress or were avoided.

If you suffer from feelings of or associated with claustrophobia, the fear of enclosed spaces, and want to try a convenient and new approach to relief, try calmspace. What do you have to lose? Let me know how it goes, share with me your stories and hopeful success. I look forward to hearing from you.

Dr. Beaubaire is here to share your thoughts, ideas, questions, experiences and information on claustrophobia and other anxiety inducing situations. To reach him, you can email here.

Until next time…
Dr. B

Michael Beaubaire MD
Medical Director.