We all have some kind of fear inside us that prevents us to do things. Some have fear of darkness, heights, water, certain animals and so on. All these fears or phobias develop due to a cause or happening which stuck inside us for long time. One of these fears which is quite common among people is acrophobia or commonly known as fear of heights. Acrophobia is linked to unusual panic and anxiety that is experienced by a person when he goes to high places like mountains. But it is not the usual discomfort from high altitudes but the trigger that is caused by looking down from some heighted places or skyscrapers. Let us understand this phobia with a bit more depth.
Dr. Tanu Chowdhury, Clinical Psychologist from Healthcare Clinic, Lucknow describes it as the fear of heights because of past experiences among people. Most of the people do not have any problem in going to heighted places but they get panicked when they look down from those heights. The person feels dizzy and nervous looking down from a high altitude. It creates a sense of panic and sudden anxiety among those who have this phobia. You must have noticed going to the corner of skyscraper might leave you a bit conscious or dizzy. Acrophobic person can become extremely frightened at some points and can trigger him which can lead him to many health problems.
What are the Symptoms of Acrophobia?
The major symptom of acrophobia remains intense fear of heights but apart from that there are many other triggers that can also be symptoms of acrophobia-
- Increased sweating among people
- Tight chest or having chest pain
- Increased heartbeat at sight of looking from high altitudes
- Feeling sick or lightheaded thinking about height
- Shaking or trembling when faced with height
- Dizziness and losing balance going or looking from high places
- Avoiding routes that have heights in between
- Experiencing panic while looking from high altitudes
- Having extreme fear of being trapped
- Extreme anxiety and fear while climbing, driving or looking out from a window
- Worrying excessively about encountering heights
Why Do You Get Fear of Heights?
A person gets acrophobia or fear of heights because of some past events or experiences which affects the sub-conscious of the person. Sometimes it is due to the traumatic experience faced by the person in his childhood. It can be due to various reasons-
- Falling from a high place
- Watching someone else falling or having any tragedy because of height
- Having a panic attach or negative experience while being at a high place or altitude
The cause of this phobia can be sometimes unknown however it can develop due to genetics or other factors as well. For example you can also develop acrophobia when your caregivers or parents have that fear of it.
Treatment Options for Acrophobia
Phobias do not have any particular treatment rather there are therapies and session which can help them come out of that phobia. Avoiding the fear is comparatively easy than facing and overcoming it, hence most of the people live with their fear most of their lives and do not get therapies for it.
There are two types of therapies that are beneficial for overcoming acrophobia-
1. Exposure Therapy
This is one of the most practised and effective therapy to overcome the fear of heights. In exposure therapy you have session with the therapist who slowly exposes you to the fear you are afraid of. It is a gradual process and does take time to overcome it. It can start by looking at some pictures associated with heights or view from tall buildings. Once you are comfortable with it, then the therapist moves towards clips related to height, or crossing tightropes or narrow bridges you are mostly afraid off. This goes on till you feel comfortable with heights.
2. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
This therapy is usually used in extreme cases where the person is unable to cope up with the exposure therapy. In cognitive behavioural therapy, the person is not directly exposed to the fear. Instead the therapist tries to control and reframe his negative thoughts about heights into positive ones until the person is convinced to go through the exposure therapy and process. Towards the end of this therapy, a person may be exposed to slight fear with visuals or videos so that he is comfortable enough.
Fear of heights is termed as acrophobia. This includes a person having extreme fear of heights and getting panicked when exposed to it. The symptoms of acrophobia can be both psychological and physical. Knowing the symptoms can aware you about your phobia that can help you get treatment or come out of it. The major cause of acrophobia is usually some traumatic experience or past happening that remains the sub-conscious head and does not allow overcoming the phobia. It can also be due to observing caretakers in early stages that later on develops to become that phobia. There are two therapies available for acrophobia, get yourself into them to overcome your fear.
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