What is acrophobia, and how to treat it?
Are you afraid of heights or tall buildings? Do you feel panic when you realize that you are at a certain height above the ground? Are you afraid to attend a meeting on the top floor of an office building? Do you close your eyes when you are in the car at higher altitudes? Acrophobia may be the cause, or fear of heights, an anxiety disorder that affects about 5% of the population.
The definition of acrophobia is simply the fear of heights. Those who have acrophobia – gr. „Acron” (heights) and „Phobos” (fear) – usually do not enjoy trips to amusement parks if it involves heights. Due to their heightened anxiety, people with acrophobia may be reluctant to walk on high hills, and for some, it can be very stressful to be on a rolling ladder or in a glass elevator.
People who are afraid of heights can even avoid moving on bridges, as this can cause dizziness. This height phobia can trigger unpleasant symptoms, and acrophobic people avoid situations of being at a lower or higher altitude. Unfortunately, this avoidance can interfere with your daily activities. This is not great news for women, where acrophobia is twice as common as on men.
You may postpone doing home repairs because you are afraid to climb a ladder. You may feel stressed about booking a hotel room on a high floor. You could even avoid mountain trails. Acrophobia could adversely affect your lifestyle.
Some people use the word dizziness when describing their fear of heights, but dizziness or unpleasant sensation of rotation is indeed a symptom of acrophobia.
Other symptoms may include:
- Feeling the need to crawl. Kneeling when you are far from the ground.
- You are shaking
- You are sweating
- You feel frightened or paralyzed by fear
- Your heartbeat is increasing
- You cry or yell
- You have a complete panic attack with difficulty breathing
- You have headaches and dizziness when you are at a certain height from the ground
Why does acrophobia occur?
Fear of heights can result from our natural fear of not falling and not being injured, and if we insist on the pain that is caused by a fall from the height, this could contribute to the development of acrophobia.
It is usual for people to have a certain reluctance to go to high places, but for those with acrophobia, the fear is unrealistic and exaggerated. Acrophobia, like all phobias, seems to be an increased response to the normal fear response.
Some experts believe that the physiological arousal of the phobic person can be a learned response, either because of a previous fall from the height or because of the parent’s nervous reaction to height.
The good news is that, over time and with a will, acrophobia can be defeated. One of the main treatments for acrophobia is exposure psychotherapy. Through this form of psychotherapy are used specific behavioural techniques that expose the individual to the fear-generating situation – in this case, the heights.
These behavioural techniques can be used either gradually or quickly, and the patient is taught how to stop his panic reaction and how to regain control over his own emotions.
Although real exposure to heights is a viable treatment for acrophobia, more and more research shows that virtual reality can be just as effective. Exposure to Virtual Reality Therapy saves money and time, although it is not available everywhere.
In Romania, you can defeat this fear of heights – tall buildings by Virtual Reality at ID Therapy Bespoke Treatment Center.
As for drugs, sometimes beta-inhibitors or sedatives can be used for short-term relief because they can relieve panic and anxiety. For example, the drug D-cycloserine has been studied since 2008 related to anxiety disorder, and some research shows that using d-cycloserine in combination with exposure psychotherapy can produce good results. However, as the results of some studies have questioned the usefulness of this drug, it seems that more research is needed.
Are you facing this condition?
Find out all you can learn about acrophobia.
Look for treatment options that can help you manage your fear of heights. Acrophobia is different from other phobias because if you have a panic attack while in a high place, you can make a risky move that could be dangerous. So make sure you are receiving acrophobia treatment.
Relax. Relaxation techniques, including meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation, can help you cope with stress and anxiety.
Seek help. Talk to your doctor about what kind of drug therapy and psychotherapy could help you. If you are not familiar with acrophobia, ask for a referral to a mental health specialist who can help you. Don’t be ashamed to tell your friends and family about the fear of heights and ask for help during the treatment. Remember, you are not alone! Millions of people have acrophobia but are treatable. With professional advice and with the support of close friends, you can begin to manage this phobia and continue your life.
Schedule your session with ID Therapy Specialist
Dr. Nadia Gorduza is the only psychotherapist and trainer in Romania specialized in Therapy through Virtual Reality for Phobias and Addictions.
Dr. Nadia Gorduza represents Virtually Better Inc. USA in Romania.
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Address: Naum Ramniceanu Street, no. 23, ap. 1,
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