General Knowledge

What is Acrophobia? Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Acrophobia is a type of phobia that causes its patients to suffer from extreme fear of height. Acrophobia belongs to a specific set of phobias called Space and Motion discomfort where they experience fear of heights.

Acrophobia should not be confused with Vertigo because Vertigo is a kind of spinning sensation that occurs to a person when he looks down from tall buildings or places. A patient suffering from vertigo can climb the tall buildings if he finds them safe, however, a person with Acrophobia will deny climbing.

People with Acrophobia suffer from panic attacks when they are in high places and they get impatient to get down as early as possible. It is said that around 2-5% of people suffer from Mild Acrophobia, however, some of them might suffer from severe acrophobia. The term of Acrophobia is taken from the Greek language where Akron means summit/edge and Phobos meaning fear.

Symptoms of Acrophobia

People with acrophobia when typically encountering the situation will feel

  1. Increased swelling/chest pain or tightness.
  2. Feeling lightheaded.
  3. Trembling or shaking when they notice the drop.
  4. Feeling dizzy and losing balance.
  5. Sweating a lot.
  6. Trying to find an excuse to miss visiting the place which has heights.

Causes of Acrophobia

The Causes of Acrophobia is not yet determined however it is said that Acrophobia might have been caused by

  1. Previous traumatic experience.
  2. Falling from high places when you are young.
  3. Or watching someone else fall and get injured which might have a permanent image of them in your brain.
  4. Someone from your family would have acrophobia which in turn affects you.
  5. Watching any acrophobic scene on any electronic device etc.

Treatment For The Phobia

The feeling of Acrophobia can be diagnosed and provided specific treatment, however, you need to consult your doctor if you notice any changes in your mind when at height places. Similar to other phobia’s Acrophobia can be treated by

a) Exposure Therapy: Considered to be one of the most effective treatments, Exposure Therapy includes you to slowly expose the situation in the form of Images, Videos, and later try on simulation via the use of technology which gradually decreases your fear of heights.

b) Cognitive-behavioral therapy: A therapist will assist you to overcome the fear of heights using CBT where he/she will challenge you via questioning your thoughts on heights. This may include Exposure therapy in the latter part of the session.

c) Medications: A doctor can prescribe medicines such as Beta-Blockers, benzothiophene, or D-Cycloserine which helps you to keep your blood pressure normal and heartbeat at a steady rate during panic attacks caused due to Acrophobia. These medications will help you to reduce anxiety and thus decrease your phobia steadily.

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