Elevator OCD

The fear of being stuck in elevator is extremely common. It can be bad enough to make us take the stairs and cause terrifying panic attacks if trapped.

How common is this fear, and what are the chances?

a disused elevator in an abandoned building

Claustrophobia. The fear of enclosed spaces.

NIH reports that 12.5% of the population have this fear. For some, it is enough to avoid enclosed spaces altogether. For others, it only becomes apparent during an entrapment.

According to Kings III– an emergency help phones provider- the odds of being trapped in an elevator in the USA is one in every 100,000 elevator rides. This is in a country with 900,000 elevators.

This statistic may be good or bad news, depending on the reader.

elevator colour chart, showing the likelihood of being stuck in an elevator

According to this article, 18 billion elevator trips are taken annually in the USA.

Those trips result in about 27 deaths annually, according to estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. That works out to a fatality rate of 0.00000015% per trip.

This statistic seems favourable, but OCD doesn’t always welcome statistics.

Trapped in an OCD cycle

OCD can have us fearing an entrapment, nowhere near an elevator. Intrusive thoughts can occur at any time, making this fear harder to ignore. 

It occurs from the same process as any other intrusive thought, based on our fears and often with compulsions. 

These compulsions can be more direct, such as taking the stairs, or they can occur as rituals, such as flicking a light switch an even number of times to avoid getting stuck later in the day.

This fear can be debilitating, affecting every aspect of our lives. Treatment such as therapy can improve quality of life, and even end this fear altogether.