Skip to content Skip to footer

Physical and emotional symptoms of phobias come in a wide array. From panic attacks to nausea, these symptoms can come on quickly, without any warning, and, quite frankly, be terrifying.

We’ve listed below some easy-to-implement steps that may help you cope with many of the more common, troublesome symptoms brought on by phobias.

What Are the Symptoms of Phobias and How Can I Manage Them?

Physical Symptoms of Phobias

 A.  Shallow or Shortness of Breath

Strategy: Focused breathing

    1. Close your eyes.
    2. Take in a slow breath, deep and gently, through your nose. Make sure it is deep enough that your abdomen moves outward.
    3. Slowly breathe out in the same manner.
    4. It may help to count slowly from 1 to 5 with each breath as you breathe in and then again as you breathe out.
    5. Do this 5 to 10 times.
    6. Keep your mind on the way you are breathing.

B.  Hyperventilating

Strategy: Paper bag breathing

    1. Close your eyes.
    2. Breathe into and out of a paper bag until your breathing is normal.

C.  Racing or Pounding Heart Associated with Panic Attack

According to John D. Day, MD, Director, Intermountain Heart Institute Heart Rhythm Specialists, Salt Lake City, UT, during bouts of severe anxiety or a panic attack, your heart is beating irregularly, which is different from a heart attack. You may have two or three beats that are fast and then a couple that are slow.

Notice: If you have ANY issues with your heart, contact your physician immediately. The information provided on this page relates to confirmed panic attacks only.

Strategy: Deep breathing

    1. Sit down, or if you can, lie down.
    2. Close your eyes.
    3. Take a slow breath through your nose. As you breathe in you should feel your abdomen rise.
    4. Slowly breathe out through pursed lips.
    5. Repeat until you feel calmer.

Strategy: Isometrics combined with breathing

    1. Take a deep breath through the mouth. Hold it.
    2. Clench the muscles of your whole body as tight as you can.
    3. Feel your body tremble from the constricting of the muscles.
    4. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds.
    5. Relax your muscles as you breathe out slowly through your nose.
    6. Breathe normally for a couple of minutes.
    7. Repeat until you feel better.

D. Chest Pain or Tightness Associated with Panic Attack

According to John D. Day, MD, Intermountain Heart Institute Heart Rhythm Specialists, Salt Lake City, UT, panic attack symptoms are similar to afib, however, the sudden onset of chest pain, chest tightness, or pounding in the chest is usually a panic attack.

Notice: If you have ANY issues with your heart, contact your physician immediately. The information provided on this page relates to confirmed panic attacks only.

Strategy: Deep breathing with mental focus

    1. Breathe in deeply.
    2. Hold it.
    3. Slowly count to 10; you will feel the tension.
    4. Relax by slowly breathing out.
    5. While slowing breathing in and out, focus on the word “relax.”

Strategy: Facial immersion

    1. Get a bowl large enough to fit around your face.
    2. Fill with water and ice cubes.
    3. Breathe in deeply.
    4. Place your face into the water. Be sure to cover your temples, nose, upper cheeks, eyes, and forehead. Hold for 15 seconds.
    5. Rise up.
    6. Breathe normally.
    7. Breathe in deeply again.
    8. Place your face into the water again.
    9. Repeat until you feel calm.

Strategy: Timed breathing

    1. Close your eyes.
    2. Focus on the way you breathe.
    3. Slowly and deeply breathe in for 3 seconds.
    4. Hold your breath for 2 seconds.
    5. Breathe out for 3 seconds.
    6. Remind yourself it is a panic attack.

E. Trembling or Shaking

Strategy: Timed, deep breathing

    1. Take a long, slow, deep breath through your nose.
    2. Hold for 10 seconds.
    3. Breath out slowly.
    4. Repeat until you stop shaking.

Strategy: Focused breathing

    1. Close your eyes.
    2. Focus on your breathing.
    3. Continue until you feel the shaking subside, which should be a few minutes.

Strategy: Change of environment

    1. Take a short walk
    2. Slowly breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth.
    3. Focus on the natural elements in your surroundings.

Strategy: Progressive muscle relaxation.

    1. Take a deep breath through the mouth.
    2. Hold it.
    3. Tighten your entire body as hard as you can.
    4. Feel your body tremble from the tightening.
    5. Keep tightening for 5 to 10 seconds.
    6. Relax your muscles as you breath out through your nose.
    7. Breathe normally for a couple of minutes.
    8. Repeat until you feel better.

F. Feeling Dizzy or Light-headed

Strategy: Seated breathing

    1. Sit down.
    2. Take slow deep breaths.
    3. Count your breaths.
    4. Repeat until you feel better.

Strategy: Paper bag breathing

    1. Breathe into a paper bag.
    2. Breathe in and out into a paper bag.
    3. Continue until you feel better.

Strategy: Singular focus

    1. Sit down.
    2. Close your eyes for a few minutes.
    3. Drink a glass of cool water. Sip, do not guzzle.
    4. Focus on one object until you feel at ease.

Strategy: Epley maneuver

    1. Sit down on the bed or even on the floor if you have to.
    2. Turn your head toward the right halfway.
    3. Lay down, keeping your head in that position.
    4. Your pillow should be underneath your shoulders only.
    5. Your head should be reclined.
    6. Hold for 30 seconds.
    7. While lying down, slowly turn your head toward the left halfway.
    8. Hold for 30 seconds.
    9. Keep your head in that position.
    10. Roll over on your left side.
    11. Hold for 30 seconds.
    12. Sit up on the left side.

 G. Churning Stomach

Strategy: Kitchen remedies

    1. Use real ginger: chew on a piece of root, eat ginger candy, drink ginger tea, or slowly sip ginger ale.
    2. Chew on a leaf of spearmint, lemon balm, lavender, or peppermint.
    3. Drink spearmint, lemon balm, lavender, or peppermint tea.
    4. Take small bites of plain bread or plain crackers.
    5. Slowly sip cold water.

Strategy: An over-the-counter antacid such as Alka Seltzer

Strategy: Loosen the clothing around the abdomen

 H. Hot or Cold Flashes

Strategy: Physical remedies

    1. Wear comfortable, light clothing.
    2. Remove excess clothing.
    3. Walk around the house.
    4. Step outside for a few minutes.
    5. Drink a glass of water.

Strategy: Mental/emotional remedies

    1. Redirect thoughts that could be causing the hot flash.
    2. Read a book.
    3. Keep a journal of what you are thinking about or dreaming about when the hot or cold flash occurs. This will help you identify your triggers.

I. Tingling Sensations

Strategy: Physical remedies

    1. Shake your arms, legs, or entire body.
    2. Take a brisk walk.
    3. Go for a light jog.
    4. Do some simple stretches.
    5. Run in place or dance to your favorite song

J. Sweating

Strategy: Herbal and other remedies

    1. Try herbal products like sage and St. John’s-wort.
    2. Apply tomato juice or apple cider vinegar to the skin.
    3. Use corn starch, baby powder, or baking soda under the arms.

Strategy: Use cool water

    1. Splash your face with cool water.
    2. If you do not want to ruin your make-up, place a cold cloth on the back of your neck.
    3. Carry baby wipes to use just in case.

K. Frozen in Fear

Strategy: Physical remedies

    1. Breathe into a paper bag.
    2. Drink a large glass of water.

Strategy: Mental/Emotional remedies

    1. Use positive affirmations. Say things out loud such as “I am calm” and “I am safe.
    2. Visualize a space where you feel safe.

L. Diarrhea

Strategy: Dietary remedies

    1. Eat foods like toast, rice, bananas, and applesauce.
    2. Drink rice water.
    3. Eat foods with probiotics such as yogurt.
    4. Eat foods high in fiber like oatmeal, apples, beans, and citrus fruits.

Strategy: Over-the-counter medications like Pepto-Bismol or Imodium A-D

M. Trouble Swallowing

Strategy: Relaxation exercise

    1. Relax the muscles in your neck.
    2. Lean your head back as far as possible.
    3. Focus on the word “relax.”
    4. Relax the muscles in your jaw.
    5. Clench your teeth tightly.
    6. Count to 10 and feel the tension rise.
    7. Relax your jaw.
    8. Relax the muscles in the throat and tongue.
    9. Push your tongue tightly against the roof of your mouth.
    10. Count to 10 and feel the tension rise.
    11. Relax your tongue.
    12. Relax the muscles in your face and lips.
    13. Press your lips together tightly.
    14. Count to 10 and feel the tension rise.
    15. Relax your lips.

 N. Dilated Pupils

Strategy: Eye care

    1. Close your eyes for a few seconds.
    2. Wear sunglasses.

Strategy: Reduce stress level

    1. Close your eyes or focus on one particular object.
    2. Breathe slowly in through your nose and slowly out through your mouth.

O. Dry Mouth

Strategy: Basic remedies

    1. Chew sugar-free gum.
    2. Drink water.
    3. Breathe through your nose, not your mouth.
    4. Suck on ice cubes.
    5. Practice deep breathing.
    6. Sit with your back straight.

Strategy: Relaxation exercise

    1. Inhale slowly through your nose for 5 to 6 seconds.
    2. Hold for a few seconds.
    3. Slowly exhale through your mouth for 7 seconds.
    4. Repeat 10 times.

P. Gas or Burping

Strategy: Dietary considerations

    1. Eat slowly.
    2. Drink herbal teas like chamomile, anise, peppermint, and ginger.
    3. Chew on fennel seeds.
    4. Eat a spoonful of clove oil after your meal.

Strategy: Place a heating pad on your stomach

Strategy: Yoga pose

    1. Lie down and place your legs up with your feet together.
    2. Bend your knees and place your arms around your legs.
    3. Using your arms, pull your legs to your chest.
    4. While moving your legs, move your head to your knees.
    5. Hold for 20 seconds.


Emotional Symptoms of Phobias

A. Overwhelming Anxiety or Panic

Strategy: Thought redirection with relaxation

    1. Close your eyes.
    2. Slowly breathe through your nose.
    3. Slowly exhale out your mouth.
    4. Repeat until you feel calmer, around 5 minutes.
    5. Consider your thoughts. Turn negative thoughts into positive thoughts.
    6. Go for a walk.
    7. Keep a journal of your thoughts when you feel overwhelming anxiety.

B. Feeling Intense Need to Escape

Strategy: Focus on your surroundings

      1. Pick one item or one aroma that is calming.
      2. Breathe in through your nose slowly, counting to 5.
      3. Breathe out through your mouth slowly, counting to 6.
      4. Repeat until you feel better.

Strategy: Find something to read

    1. Read aloud
    2. Consider the meaning of the words and the pronunciation.

Strategy: Listen to music

C. Fear of Losing Control or Going Crazy

Strategy: Physical remedies

    1. Watch your favorite movie.
    2. Get some movement. Exercise or take a walk.
    3. Practice breathing slowly and deeply. Focus on your breath.

Strategy: Mental and emotional remedies

    1. Call a friend.
    2. Repeat positive, affirming phrases such as “I’m okay.”
    3. Use visualization. Imagine yourself in a calm, safe space.

D. Feeling Like You’re Going to Die or Pass Out

Strategy: Focused breathing

    1. Close your eyes.
    2. Focus on the way you breathe.
    3. Slowly and deeply breathe in for 3 seconds.
    4. Hold your breath for 2 seconds.
    5. Breathe out for 3 seconds.

E. Knowing That You’re Overreacting, but Feeling Powerless to Control Fear 

Strategy: Stay in the NOW.

    1. Pay attention to the way your body is responding.
    2. Empty your mind.
    3. Focus on the part of the body that is tense or shaky.
    4. Breathe consistently and slowly to center yourself.

Strategy: Gently tap your shoulders, cheeks, or temples

Strategy: Mental imagery

    1. Envision the part of your brain (the amygdala) that handles emotions
    2. Think of it as a blue light.
    3. Envision the blue light of that part of the brain going into other parts of your brain.

F. Fear of Dying

Strategy: Focus on thought pattern

    1. Close your eyes.
    2. Pay attention to your thoughts.
    3. Do not judge your thoughts.
    4. Just see if you notice a pattern.
    5. Focus on an object or your breathe while observing your body, feelings, or thoughts.

Strategy: Focus on singular object such as a candle

    1. Only think about the flame of the candle.
    2. If your mind begins to wander to other things, go back to the flame.

Strategy: Nature immersion

    1. Take a walk along a nature path or in the woods.
    2. Pay attention to the things you see and hear around you.

G. Exhibiting extreme avoidance behavior such as refusing to go to the doctor even if  you are very ill.

Strategy: Thought process with mental imagery

    1. Close your eyes.
    2. Listen to your thoughts.
    3. Realize the reasons you are avoiding the situation.
    4. Now, consider what can happen if you avoid the situation.
    5. Push the thoughts that are hindering you to the back of your mind.
    6. Envision the negative thoughts disappearing.
    7. Allow the thoughts of a good outcome for the thing you are avoiding.

Strategy: “Phone a friend”

    1. Talk with a friend regarding your fear.
    2. Ask them to go with you for support.



Breathing Problems
Racing or Pounding Heartbeat
Chest Pain or Tightness
Trembling or Shaking
Feeling Dizzy or Lightheaded
A Churning Stomach
Hot or Cold Flashes
Tingling Sensations
Frozen in Fear


Your Fear Goes Up and Down

Are you someone who would rather climb the stairs than take the elevator? You call it squeezing in a workout after being sedentary the whole morning. Or perhaps you claim it's a faster route. These are both typical, normal, and acceptable reasons. But what if you need to be in the conference room on the eleventh floor in five minutes, and you're wearing your business suit and wingtips? Would you still prefer to take the stairs? If your answer is yes, then maybe it's time to take a closer look at your reasons for avoiding elevators. Elevators stir all sorts of emotions in passengers. From the discomfort of closeness to strangers to the sensations in our gut, elevators can be a source of the heebie-jeebies for many, but for some, they can also be a source of terror. Let's dig a little deeper into the latter, and see what this terror is all about and what can be done to manage it. To begin with, does being inside an elevator give you chills or the sweats? Or does it trigger an unpleasant memory? Perhaps you remember movies you've watched where something terrible happens inside an elevator. From Silence of the Lambs, The Shining, Final Destination 2, or the king of all elevator horror films, 2010’s Devil, the elevator becomes witness to something sinister and horrible. And you want nothing to do with any of it. You know that you're not claustrophobic. You can deal with heights just fine, too. And you know that you're not going to be trapped inside. All of these contribute to a fear of elevators—but they don't apply to you. Yet being inside one does something to you. It's hard to explain.

What is the Fear of Elevators Called?

What you have is a fear of elevators, which is called elevatophobia. It is most commonly triggered by an experience of getting stuck inside either due to a power outage or technical maintenance. Hearing about other people's experiences or watching a movie about similar circumstances can prompt a fear of elevators getting stuck with you inside. Usually, claustrophobics and agoraphobics may also develop elevatophobia because the triggers and objects of these fears are related. Claustrophobia is the fear of closed and cramped spaces, while agoraphobia is the fear of being trapped without any means of escape. Put the two together, and the elevator becomes the perfect combination of both phobias. The space is limited and closed, with only one means of entry and exit. You can add another point of access if you consider climbing the cables like they do in the movies, but that certainly isn't ideal.

Symptoms of Elevatophobia

If for some reason an elevator stops due to an outage or some technical difficulty, passengers with elevatophobia may go into full panic mode. Even if the maintenance team advises that it will just be a matter of minutes, by then, the person's mind has become irrational with the fear of the elevator falling, being stuck for hours, or other unpleasant thoughts. You would expect a person to exhibit the following physical symptoms: Additionally, you would be filled with that overwhelming anxiety where you feel that you have zero control over the situation. You start fearing the unknown and are filled with negative thoughts about death and imminent doom. You become irrational and unresponsive.

Possible Complications of Elevatophobia

When the panic sets in, the possibility of emergencies related to pre-existing conditions may make themselves known. This might include serious health crises like heart attacks or asthma attacks. When this happens, fear becomes a medical emergency. Elevator rides do not last long; it's just a matter of minutes or even less. But the fact that a person can escalate from panic to a near fatal medical situation classifies the fear of elevators as a 'hard phobia.'

Trying Some Self-Help Methods

Your fear of elevators can likely interfere with your social and work life and relationships. Not everyone understands that elevatophobia, like most phobias, can be crippling. But don't be disheartened. Depending on the level of your fear and level of control, you can gradually face and manage your phobia. Here are some recommendations you can try:
  1. Make a List of Everything that Entails Riding in an Elevator This is a systematic approach to getting over your anxiety. By following a step-by-step process, you can identify where the fear kicks in at its strongest. You can write a list of steps like pressing the topmost button and waiting to arrive on that floor, watching as the door closes and opens, being alone inside the elevator, or having delays with the doors opening. Now try doing the opposite. For example, face away from the door or occupy yourself with your phone so that you are distracted.
  2. Create Your Fear Ladder Although the name says fear of elevators, it is not the whole process that scares you. There are just phases and parts of the elevator riding experience that cause you to panic. So go back to the list you initially created and label the fear level you feel. You can do it numerically, too, like ten being 'really scary,' six, 'manageable scary,' and one, 'not scary at all.' You can put the corresponding fear levels so you can focus more time and effort into activities that are more scary to you.
  3. Face Your Fear By now, you have identified what scares you the most. You can try repetitive action to minimize your fear and increase your sense of ‘normalcy’. Remember that the longer you expose yourself to your fear, the better you get at handling your emotions. If you are feeling overwhelmed, stop. Pushing yourself too fast and too soon can backfire. Modify your pace and go slower instead.
  4. Talk About Your Fear People by nature, unfortunately, are not quick to offer understanding and support. You need to tell them what's wrong before they can empathize. Talk to someone who you trust and ask for their support, especially in the initial phase of overcoming your fear. If you are too afraid to ride the elevator alone, you can ask them to go with you, and before you realize it, you are on your floor, and there was no indication of panic.
  5. Learn To Be Patient Be patient with yourself and your predicament. This is, after all, your fight against fear. It might take hundreds of elevator ride practices before the fear gets under control. Even then, there might be some hesitations and episodes of nervousness. These are acceptable and expected, so cut yourself some slack and congratulate yourself for every progress.

Seeking Professional Help

Along with self-help, you can always enlist a medical professional's aid to support you with your elevatophobia. Talking to someone who has experience with similar cases can be comforting, because you know that you are not alone, and this situation can get better. Talk to your doctor about the severity of your fears and the symptoms that you experience. Explain how you deal with it in an attempt to control it. An exam and a health history are made to ensure that there are no unrelated or underlying problems that your symptoms might mask. Usually, phobias like this are approached with a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Your doctor will talk about these options with you, and it's entirely up to you, with your doctor's recommendation, what you want to pursue. For psychotherapy, the most common type is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which aims to help you find different ways of behaving, thinking, and reacting when about to step inside an elevator or when already inside it. With medications, there are beta blockers and benzodiazepines, but note that these can have side effects. Whatever these side effects are, you should promptly share it with your doctor.

Simple Tips to Overcome Elevatophobia

Elevators are not perfect, but their likelihood to malfunction, fall, or get stuck is very low. If you are not fully confident with this information, you can help overcome your elevatophobia by learning common elevator safety tips and basic elevator operations. These should help curb your mild fear until you become more self-assured. In addition to that, here are some of the things that you can do to gradually overcome your fear of elevators—both in getting on and riding one.


Yes, elevatophobia can be a challenge in today's world, but don't allow the elevator to win. Don't let it stop you from taking a job on the top floor or attending a social gathering on the rooftop. Sure, you can take the stairs if you insist and arrive winded and sweaty, with the party about to wrap up. But is this the quality of life you seek? Elevators are designed to make life easier. There are guaranteed ways to help you overcome elevatophobia. Take the first step and seek help. Soon, you’ll see yourself breezing through the floors with those arduous stair climbs little more than a memory.
This Pop-up Is Included in the Theme
Best Choice for Creatives
Purchase Now