Acrophobia is derived from the greek word ákron , meaning “peak, summit, edge” and phóbos, “which means fear. Phobia is a type of anxiety disorder that has irrational and excessive fear reactions.
Acrophobia is defined as an unexplainable, intensely fear of heights, it can cause a person to fear various things associated to being far from the ground. When being exposed to heights, most people will experience a natural fear, and feeling of being uncomfortable. But it is not expected for a person to have uncontrollable panic, distress and not able to perform everyday activities due to severe fear of heights.
Acrophobia is included in category of specific phobias, called space and motion discomforts that have both similar etiology and options for treatment.
A person who suffers from acrophobia tries to avoid elevated places like balconies, terraces, lifts, skyscrapers, bridges, planes, etc. People with acrophobia are anxious in any condition that involved heights; they also become distressed when other people are in those situations. Their greatest fear is falling.
Symptoms of Acrophobia depends on the severity of the condition, some acrophobic feels panic being on high places, but for some simply climbing a ladder is enough to induce nervousness to them. Here are the list of symptoms related to Acrophobia:
- Shortness of breathing
- Rapid breathing or Tachypnea
- Excessive sweating
- Trembling and shaking
- Unable to think and speak clearly
- Severe panic
- Feeling terrified and paralyzed
- Trauma – Like other Phobias, the causes of acrophobia have been associated with traumatic experience from the past commonly in early childhood. Probably, there was event that happened to a person that involves height or high levels. Fear and phobias is used as a protective mechanism to protect the body for possible trauma that may happen in the future.
- Fear – Fear of falling and fear of loud noises are one of the most commonly suggested inborn fears.
- Balance – One of the contributing factor related to Acrophobia is impairment in maintaining balance.
There are around 2 to 5% of the total population suffers from acrophobia, women are affected twice as compare to men. About 75% of Acrophobic improved through treatment. It is discovered that this experience is not limited to humans, it can be found also in many mammals including domestic animals.
Acrophobia Effects in Life
Acrophobia can cause negative result in a person, it can limit the activities that you can do like climbing in the roof for repairs, or changing a lightbulb. It can also affect and limit you career opportunities. Acrophobia is considered dangerous, in situations like the person became strengthless during panic attack in a high places. Some people make unsafe move like jumping off high places due to excess panic.
Treatment for acrophobia depends on the degree of the condition that affects a person. There are varieties of treatment that are now available for Acrophobia. It is important to seek medical advice as soon as symptoms have started to appear.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT – Is the treatment of choice used for specific phobias like Acrophobia. The person is encourage to deal with the specific thoughts and attitudes that causes the feeling of fear. Systemic Desensitization is a type of CBT that is preferred technique in treating acrophobia. Person is encouraged to relax and imagine the component of Phobia, thinking from the least to the most fearful.
- Medications – Drugs like anxiolytics (Anti-Anxiety) and anti depressive are sometimes used to relieve symptoms related to Acrophobia. Anxiolytics can reduce the anxiety of the person so it can be easier to handle their problem. Tranquilizers, antidepressants and beta blockers (drugs that treat heart rhythm) may be an option to relieve physical symptoms like palpitation, panic and nervousness.
- Hypnotherapy – This technique is also found effective to promote mental and muscle relaxation.
- Coping mechanism – Start to face your fears by exposing yourself to heights gradually, start slowly and adjust it higher little by little until you can endure and the feeling of fear start to diminish. Think positively when you start to feel panic and tell yourself that you can do it!