What is Acrophobia?

Do the stairs scare you? Acrophobia or fear of heights is an anxiety disorder. Itt makes life difficult for those suffering from it. It can be difficult even when performing daily actions, such as looking at people from the balcony or looking out the window. Here you will learn the symptoms, causes and consequences of acrophobia. We will also tell you how to handle it.

What is Fear of Height (Acrophobia)?

Acrophobia is excessive fear of heights. People with this anxiety disorder become panic when they are above certain height. (elevators, stairs, etc.). 2% to 5% of the population faces this problem.

Photo Source: @luna.mycorgi

What are the Symptoms of Fear of Height?

People who suffer from acrophobia not only feel tense on the roof of a skyscraper, or refrain from doing sports that require a large amount of elevation off the ground. They face extreme difficulties and fear in everyday activities such as looking through the window of the first floor or crossing a low bridge. In addition, the fear of heights has different degrees of intensity. The most common psychological and physiological symptoms are:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Panic attack
  3. Loss of control
  4. Headache
  5. Dizziness
  6. Stress and muscle tension
  7. Severe heart palpitations

What Causes Acrophobia?

It should be noted that we have all been afraid of heights since childhood, but the intensity of fear varies from person to person. This fear exists in animals and is adaptive, protecting them from dangerous heights. The reasons for people’s fear of heights can be completely different. Some of the main reasons are:

1- Acrophobia due to traumatic events
Usually this is due to childhood. Major accidents or falls, which are seriously affected by the patient, are among the most common causes. This does not mean that everyone who has bad events about height will have acrophobia. On the other hand, there are people who obtain this disorder through observation, even if it is not damaged. This is called representative learning.. For example, if we witness our fear reaction when a wasp stings our brother, it is quite possible that we will be afraid when a similar insect approaches us.

2- Congenital fear of heights
Currently, researchers are investigating the inheritance of the innate factors of this phobia. In families with acrophobia, children are believed to have witnessed this since birth and eventually developed it.

3- Cognitive prejudice in acrophobia
Deviations in our cognitive process also play an important role in the formation of some phobias. False information on altitude can also increase excessive anxiety and stress response and cause phobia. The tendency to overestimate the occurrence or severity of accidents is common in these cases.

What are the consequences of fear of heights?

There are many who find the idea of ​​cleaning or skydiving the windows of the building extremely annoying. That doesn’t mean they have a problem. It is common to object to potentially dangerous situations. However, people suffering from acrophobia are often exposed to height discomfort. Not all phobias are clinical. For example, for a person who spends most of his time in a big city, the fear of tarantula is not a major concern. However, the height is everywhere. Cities full of steep slopes or tall buildings seem like hell to acrophobics. On the other hand, cities in flat valleys without slopes can make a person who is afraid of heights feel like paradise.

  1. Avoidance behaviors of acrophobics: These anxiety symptoms trigger serious avoidance behaviors in acrophobics. Avoiding the stimulus that triggers fear causes this disorder to continue.
  2. Acrophobics withdraw their hands from daily activities: Acrophobics often refuse to engage in fun activities such as enjoying the scenery, riding a roller coaster or taking the cable car.
  3. Acrophobia – Work problems: If the profession requires an interest in height, they may have difficulty at work. For most people, moving to the tenth floor of a building is not a problem; however, this may be a serious problem for acrophobics. Fear can render them extremely ineffective, and their performance may go down or even have to quit.
  4. Decrease in quality of life Likewise, any phobia can significantly deteriorate a person’s quality of life in various areas. They can be emotionally frustrating and cannot be ignored by the person suffering from it. In addition, people have negative effects on their own will. These disorders are relatively common and attract the attention of psychologists looking for ways to help people with extreme anxiety.

Is vertigo the same as fear of heights?

In general, we associate these two terms because they are both related to a height-related discomfort, but they are not synonymous. Vertigo is a sensation of rotation and loss of balance. It feels like the elements around us are moving or we are turning. On the other hand, people who are afraid of heights can experience vertigo at any time. However, dizziness is only one symptom of this disorder. In short, these challenges are interrelated, although not equivalent.

It’s because they are both related to a height-related discomfort, but they are not synonymous. Vertigo is a sensation of rotation and loss of balance. It feels like the elements around us are moving or we are turning. On the other hand, people who are afraid of heights can experience vertigo at any time. However, dizziness is only one symptom of this disorder. In short, these challenges are interrelated, although not equivalent.

Treatment Options

If your height fear is not pathological, there are ways to keep you free from this fear. It is possible to unwind in situations of anxiety, but it is best to seek professional help if you have a phobia that is really noticeable to you. There are some psychological assessment tools, such as questionnaires, to see if we have any unreasonable fear. There are many therapies that have proven to be a great help for acrophobia. However, it is not known which is the best method. However, seeking an appropriate treatment is essential to improve the quality of life of those affected.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: This is the most commonly used therapy to treat phobias. Procedures such as exposure techniques have a long and successful tradition in research and clinical practice. These methods gradually bring acrophobics closer to the object of their fears. They gradually become safer and reduce anxiety reactions.

Patients may be referred to fear stimuli by professionals (psychological help specialists) or may resort to direct exposure to fear techniques. On the other hand, the animation can be symbolic or alive. It can also be done in a group or individually. Symptoms do not always disappear completely, but they allow them to perform daily activities, such as riding the elevator or looking out a window, without being paralyzed by fear.

Psychological intervention will greatly increase welfare. In addition, these treatments are under continuous review. In fact, the emergence of new technologies, such as virtual reality, helps people encounter their fears in a more controlled environment. The acrophobic person can overcome difficulties that he has never imagined before.

About the Author
Total 60 posts
Sefa Ozer
Sefa Ozer
Currently studying psychology and researching cognitive behavioral therapy. Also have studied comprative literature,interested in gender studies,. Loves helping people playing video games and dancing.
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