What if I am too claustrophobic for an MRI?

Answered by Stephen Mosley

If you are feeling too claustrophobic for an MRI, there are several techniques and options available to help reduce your anxiety. It’s important to communicate your concerns with the healthcare professionals performing the MRI so they can provide you with the necessary support.

1. Focused Breathing: One effective technique is to practice focused breathing during the MRI scan. This involves taking slow, deep breaths in through your nose and exhaling slowly through your mouth. Focusing on your breath can help distract your mind from feelings of claustrophobia and promote relaxation.

2. Eye Covering: Some people find it helpful to cover their eyes with a towel or eye mask during the MRI. This can help create a sense of detachment from the surroundings and limit visual stimulation, which may contribute to claustrophobic feelings.

3. Music or TV: Many MRI facilities provide headphones or earplugs, allowing you to listen to music or watch TV during the procedure. This can help divert your attention and provide a more pleasant experience.

4. Open Upright MRI: If traditional closed MRI machines are too anxiety-inducing, you may consider seeking out a facility that offers Open Upright MRI. These machines are designed to provide a more spacious and open environment, which can help alleviate feelings of claustrophobia.

5. Medication: In some cases, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication to help reduce anxiety before the MRI. This option should be discussed with your doctor, who can provide guidance on the most suitable medication for your specific situation.

6. Support Person: If allowed by the facility, having a support person present during the MRI can provide comfort and reassurance. This person can be a friend or family member who can stay by your side throughout the procedure.

7. Practice Relaxation Techniques: Before the MRI, you can practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, guided imagery, or progressive muscle relaxation. These techniques can help you feel more calm and prepared for the procedure.

Remember, it’s important to discuss your claustrophobia with your healthcare provider before the MRI so they can address your concerns and provide you with appropriate support. They may have additional suggestions or strategies tailored to your specific needs.

Personal experience: I have personally dealt with claustrophobia during an MRI scan. Communicating my concerns with the healthcare professionals helped tremendously. They provided me with headphones and allowed me to listen to music, which helped distract my mind from the confined space. Additionally, practicing focused breathing and closing my eyes during the scan also helped me feel more at ease.