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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5763
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I am extremely claustrophobic and will eventually need an MRI

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I am extremely claustrophobic and will eventually need an MRI scan for shoulder and knee problems.. Meds such as Valium and Xanex haven`t helped nor the more open MRI units. I have moderately severe obstructive sleep apnea and use nightly CPAP , but there`s always a concern regarding airway problems with too much sedation.What can I do ? Is it possible to administer anesthesia given sedation for the procedure and how do I go about it? I`m upset with this whole situation. Any Help?? GDS
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.


This is a frequent problem with MRIs so you are not alone. Since medication is not an easy option for you, you may want to try therapy. Although most people tend to feel therapy is not an easy answer, it is actually the most effective. Medication can reduce symptoms, but it cannot eliminate the phobia. Once the medication is stopped, the phobia is still there. Therapy can work to help you understand your fear and find ways to rid yourself of the symptoms once and for all. You do this by working on how you think about your fear and changing your thought processes so you no longer respond the way you do now.


You mentioned that you will eventually need an MRI so I am guessing you may have time for some short term therapy and self help. The good news is that phobias are one of the easiest problems to treat. Cognative behavior therapy (CBT) has been shown to help and is very effective within a short period of time. To find a therapist, contact your doctor for a referral. Or you can search on line at


You can also help yourself. Here are some resources to get you started:


The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne


Anxiety, Phobias, & Panic: A Step-by-Step Program for Regaining Control of Your Life by Reneau Z. Peurifoy


The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Anxiety: A Step-By-Step Program by William Knaus and Jon, Psy.D. Carlson


You can find these books on or your local library may have them for you.


Let me know if I can help any further,


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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Kate Thank you for your opinion on my MRI claustrophobia . I will start by utilizing the suggested readings and check for therapy in my area. Are there is any other meds that might be of benefit on a temporary basis i n the event the MRI testing becomes more imminent . My rotator cuff injury may need evaluation sooner as the physical therapy doesn`t appear promising? Thanks for any further insight you may have regarding this. GDS
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

You are very welcome! I am glad to help.


You may also want to try Ativan. It can be used as a prn (as needed) medication so you can take it whenever you feel anxious. It can help you calm down in a few minutes after you take it. Some people find relief just knowing they have the medication just in case. They don't even have to take it.


If you start following the information on some of the links I provided, that may give you a head start. All you really need to feel better is an understanding of how anxiety and phobias work. Once you see that it is about how you perceive the MRI (a scary overwhelming place), you begin to understand that a phobia, though very difficult to cope with, is nothing more than a thought process that activates your adrenaline causing symptoms such as a racing heart, breathing difficulties, stomach problems, sweating and a strong need to flee. This is all caused by thinking you are in danger. It is the essence of what creates a phobia. Understanding the basics can help tremendously in coping with your fear.







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