Afraid of Elevators? 20 Tips From 20/20

How to cope with elevator phobia.

ByABC News
June 9, 2011, 9:59 AM

June 10, 2011— -- Take claustrophobia and agoraphobia (the fear of panicking), add some social anxiety disorder, throw in funky odors and bad music -- what do you have? A little slice of hell called elevator phobia. It's a serious fear that's rarely discussed, despite periodic stories like the recent one of a freight elevator dropping three floors with a group of construction workers aboard. If elevators elevate your heart rate, here are some expert tips from The Anxiety and Phobia Treatment Center at White Plains Hospital.

20 Useful Tips for Elevator-Phobes

1. Carry a book of crossword puzzles you can take out when you need to.

2. Snap a rubber band on your wrist.

3. Put your keys in your pocket and try to distinguish which is which by feel.

4. Have some coins in your pocket and try to distinguish which is which by feel.

5. Pop some strong mints or sour candy in your mouth.

6. Circle all the five-letter words on a newspaper or magazine page.

7. Put a pebble in your shoe and press your foot down on it.

8. Make lists: ordinary tasks, people to catch up with, life goals, etc.

9. Count the tiles on the floor or ceiling.

10. Go through the alphabet and think of a girl's name that begins with each letter.

11. Do the same thing with boys' names.

12. Play a memory game by recalling telephone numbers you call often.

13. Needlepoint or any other type of sewing.

14. Count down from 100.

15. Count down from 100 by threes.

16. Carry a prickly hair curler and squeeze it in your hand.

17. Choose a word and see how many other words you can think of that are related to it.

18. Read. If necessary, take your newspaper, magazine or book and try to read it upside down.

19. Smelling salts.

20. Most importantly, lower your fear by riding an elevator every day!

To learn about Joanna Goddard, an elevator phobe profiled by "20/20," read her blog post on the subject here.

Read about one man's harrowing 41-hour ordeal in an elevator here.

Watch the full story tonight on "20/20" at 10 p.m. ET.