Acrophobia or irrational fear of heights.

Do you want to learn about extreme panic at heights? Here you will get all the information you need.

How to overcome it, treatments, explanations, examples and much more! ๐Ÿง

Etymology and meaning of acrophobia.

The term "Acrophobia" comes from the combination of 2 words: รกkron (Greek word) and phobia ๐Ÿ’€... Akron refers to height, while phobia symbolizes an irrational or obsessive fear.

And so we get the meaning of "acrophobia" ๐Ÿง, the irrational dread of heights.

It is worth noting that in the Greek language a single word can have several meanings depending on the context, just like in English... Why do I say that ๐Ÿคจ? Simple, in other pages you will find that "Akron" means peak, summit or edge but the correct interpretation in this case would be height, otherwise acrophobia would represent extreme panic of peaks, summits or edges ๐Ÿฅด

Another aspect to highlight is that acrophobia encompasses any irrational fear related to height... What does it mean ๐Ÿซฃ? Whenever you read or hear phrases like:

You know that we talk about acrophobia ๐Ÿค ... Although in the case of bridges it is curious because it depends on the origin of your panic, because you can be afraid of the height of the bridge or the construction itself.

If it's the construction itself, it's a different phobia but if it's the height, it's obviously acrophobia ๐Ÿ˜ถ

How common is acrophobia and how many people suffer from it?

It is difficult to give you a concise answer because these are only approximations, but it is estimated that about 6% of the population suffers from acrophobia... That is ๐Ÿค“, about 480 million people in the world suffer from this anxiety disorder.

An abysmal amount when you think that the population of the United States has around 330 million people ๐Ÿคฏ... Considering that this country is one of the most populated in the world.

Acrophobia from a psychological perspective.

It is considered an anxiety disorder like many other phobias, which means that from the point of view of psychology it is a mental illness that requires medical help ๐Ÿฉน... It is not a small problem that can be ignored or a simple nonsense, people who suffer from this evil are sick and need help to counteract their situation.

Acrophobia in the DSM-5.

Extreme panic of altitudes in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders edition 5 (DSM-5) is recognized as a specific type of phobia with the subcategory of "environment"... This classification, although it may not seem so, can give us a lot of important information about this irrational fear ๐Ÿง

Specific phobias are characterized by being created at an early age (childhood and adolescence), by having a "minor" impact on the life of their victims (in comparison to complex extreme terrors such as agoraphobia) and by weakening as the person with this malady matures ๐Ÿ‘จ

These characteristics undoubtedly define acrophobia ๐Ÿ˜ถ

Who is affected by acrophobia?

It is usually children who suffer from acrophobia because it is a "specific" type of phobia but there is no age limit, anyone can have this mental disorder ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ

What kind of heights do people with acrophobia fear?

Defining what specific height can generate acrophobia is simply a mistake as this irrational fear encompasses all altitudes in general, regardless of whether they are high or not.

There are people who feel extreme panic just by climbing a flight of stairs or standing on a chair ๐Ÿช‘, and others who experience these fears only in really high places... For this reason, there is no specific height that causes acrophobia, as all altitudes can trigger it ๐Ÿ˜ถ

All phobias mentally weaken their victims and make them more susceptible to other irrational fears (also to other types of psychological disorders)... In the case of acrophobia it is usually accompanied with other fears closely related to it, let me introduce them to you ๐Ÿง:

Bathmophobia ๐Ÿ“: The extreme panic of stairs or slopes in general.

Climacophobia โฌ†๏ธ: An even more specific fear, the irrational fear of going up or down stairs.

Aerophobia โœˆ๏ธ: Extreme panic of flying or air travel.

Cremnophobia โ›ฐ๏ธ: The irrational fear of cliffs or precipices.

Gephyrophobia ๐ŸŒ‰: The illogical fear of bridges or tunnels.

Basophobia or ptophobia ๐Ÿƒ: The extreme panic of falling.

As you may notice, all these anxiety disorders are related to high altitudes or the fear of falling... It is frightening how an irrational fear can spread to impoverish more and more the life of its victim ๐Ÿ’”

Causes of acrophobia or irrational fear of height.

To a certain extent it is natural to fear heights, our mind will almost always avoid situations where we can get hurt, but we must always know how to differentiate between a normal fear and a phobia ๐Ÿ’€... Don't worry though, later on I will present examples and explanations of how to distinguish between them.

But... How is an irrational fear of heights created ๐Ÿค”? It is a question with multiple answers as there can be several causes, but let me show you the most common ones:

Bad experiences or traumas ๐Ÿค•: This irrational fear can be created as a consequence of a fall or any other tragic event in the victim's life.

Bad upbringing ๐Ÿ‘ถ: In many occasions an unhealthy upbringing can be the cause of many phobias and it is something logical, if you observe that your parents are scared to a great extent with height or they teach you directly to fear it in an illogical way, it can obviously trigger acrophobia.

Genetics ๐Ÿงฌ: Many people don't believe it but we inherit many psychological factors from our parents, the simple fact that a relative has one or more irrational fears can make us more susceptible to these evils.

Physical or mental abuse ๐Ÿฅน: Teasing in many occasions can generate phobias... Imagine that you fall from a high place and people laugh at you, the next time you find yourself in a similar situation now you will not only be scared by the height but also by the reaction of others, creating a set of negative effects that can lead to extreme panic at altitudes.

Prolonged stress ๐Ÿ˜ค: Although it may seem unbelievable, having stress, depression or other types of mental disorders can generate an irrational fear of heights... How do they do it? Simple, these problems weaken you and make you more vulnerable to phobias in general; generating big problems in situations that normally would not cause damage.

The causes I presented above are the most repeated among all phobias but this irrational fear has the particularity of having more factors that can generate it... Again let me present them to you ๐Ÿค“:

Perception of distances ๐Ÿ‘€: Some people are unable to perceive distances correctly, causing a myriad of problems in their daily life... From imagining incredibly high heights when climbing the step of a staircase to thinking there is altitude when you are at the top of a skyscraper ๐Ÿข

This obviously can trigger to this irrational fear, making the poor victims think they are at extreme heights or even, generating altitude trauma in general by not perceiving a high altitude and suffering injuries because of it ๐Ÿค•

Vestibular problems ๐Ÿ‘‚: The vestibular system is in charge of our balance, failures of this structure can cause us to fall very frequently which obviously can generate extreme panic at heights... It is simple ๐Ÿคท, you are used to fall frequently without the ability to avoid it, the simple fact that this can happen to you at a high altitude can mean great damage and even life is terrifying.

Yes they are related but not the same โŒ, vertigo is a spinning sensation or sudden movement that manifests itself internally or externally, emphasizing that this spinning or movement is non-existent (in other words ๐Ÿ˜ฎ, you feel that you are moving or spinning when you are not)... A simple practice to check how vertigo feels is to move your head from one side to the other very quickly and stop in your tracks, you will feel for a few moments that you are still moving when this is not the case ๐Ÿ˜ต

And as we have already mentioned, acrophobia is the abnormal dread of heights... So we understand that they are not the same but people relate them a lot because vertigo is one of the most common symptoms of the irrational fear of heights, as well as being a very dangerous manifestation, as it can make you fall and if you are in a high place even worse ๐Ÿ’€

Signs, triggers and complications of acrophobia.

The irrational fear of heights, like other types of phobias, has great repercussions in people's lives... Many times we focus only on the physical damage, as these are the most obvious, but there are other ways in which an individual can be harmed.

For this reason we divide the symptoms into 3 divisions ๐Ÿง, this way you will better understand the different ways in which this anxiety disorder can affect you and the danger it represents in general.

Behavioral symptoms of acrophobia.

Behavioral symptoms are often ignored but they also represent a great harm in people's lives by limiting them in many ways, they will not have such visible consequences but you would be surprised to know how many opportunities you can lose by having an unhealthy behavior.

Physical symptoms of acrophobia.

You may think that these negative effects are the most dangerous among the 3 variants I present you, because they alter our body directly... But each type of symptom is important in its own way ๐Ÿ˜ถ, the other variants may not be so visible but represent a much greater long term damage, don't be fooled by appearances ๐Ÿซฃ

Mental symptoms of acrophobia.

Phobias are mental disorders that can be very debilitating mentally, which can make a person more susceptible to illnesses such as depression and even more phobias... For this reason, people who suffer from phobias often have more than one abnormal fear or other mental problems.

Triggers of acrophobia.

It should be noted that triggers are all those actions or events that can "activate" acrophobia, so they may sound a little redundant when we have already read the behavioral symptoms but it is important to understand what can cause the irrational fear of heights to appear.

Complications of acrophobia.

Complications are all those symptoms or triggers that may interfere with the cure or diagnosis of a disease... For this reason almost all negative effects of irrational fear of heights are included, for example if in the psychiatric clinic one has to climb stairs to enter the building; one of the less relevant behavioural symptoms may represent a major obstacle for the person to get help.

How to overcome the irrational fear of heights or acrophobia?

I will be straightforward even though I may give you the answer you don't want to hear but you must ๐Ÿคท... The best way to overcome or end extreme panic of heights is to see a psychologist.

You might be thinking "great thanks for the help ๐Ÿ˜’" but I'm not lying to you, it really is the most efficient and safest option you can take for yourself... Make the effort to go to a psychologist if you have acrophobia or any other mental disorder, I assure you that you won't regret it.

You know, sometimes we look for quick fixes and hurt ourselves in the process, sometimes we have to accept the facts and make the right decisions to promote our self ๐ŸŒŸ

Therapy, treatment or cure for acrophobia.

People who suffer from a phobia tend to be a bit pessimistic when thinking about fighting it, but they forget or do not know that there are multiple treatments that can help them achieve their goal ๐ŸŒŸ... You are capable of overcoming an irrational fear of heights or any kind of mental disorder, you just have to work hard and persist โœŠ

Surely you will have the doubt "What are these cures, treatments or therapies for acrophobia?" Below I will explain them to you ๐Ÿค :

Evaluation or diagnosis of acrophobia.

Before knowing the cures for a disease you should understand how to identify it and it really is simpler than it sounds but it should always be recognized by a psychologist.

But how does the assessment or diagnosis of acrophobia work ๐Ÿคจ? It is based on an in-depth discussion where the professional can gather information that will allow them to identify if you have an irrational fear of heights or if you have another mental disorder.

In most cases, once the conversation is over, the psychologist, based on the information you provided, will define if you have acrophobia through the guidelines established by the DSM-5... Which are:

Irrational or extreme fear ๐Ÿ˜ฑ: this point is best understood with an example, suppose you are about to go skydiving and you are afraid of jumping out of a plane, this fact may represent a natural and logical fear since you are going to jump from an exorbitant height ๐Ÿช‚... Now imagine that panic takes over because you saw the bottom of some stairs and you have to go down there when the altitude is minimal, this would be an irrational fear since it would be exaggerated and illogical with respect to the situation where it occurs.

Anticipatory anxiety ๐Ÿ˜ฃ: As the name suggests, this refers to whether the patient generates anxiety simply by talking or thinking about heights when they are not witnessing or experiencing a situation related to this phobia.

Avoidance ๐Ÿซฃ: If the person avoids anything related to heights, such as lifts, using stairs or even talking about it.

Daily activities ๐Ÿ˜ถ: Here we identify how much acrophobia can affect the daily life of the victim and as you can imagine, it depends entirely on the person, because if someone needs to climb stairs or elevators all the time to be able to work or other things, this mental disorder can be a big obstacle.

It should be noted that most of the time acrophobia is identified as a specific phobia, so it is considered as an irrational fear that is not very harmful and intense compared to other phobias such as agoraphobia... But it still affects the victim's life and must be cured to promote the happiness of this person ๐Ÿค•

Cognitive behavioral therapy for acrophobia.

This treatment is based on deep talks that help you to change your way of thinking and acting in relation to heights โ˜๏ธ, making you understand how irrational acrophobia is and little by little cure you of this mental disorder.

This practice is surely as you imagine it, you lying on some kind of sofa while the psychologist asks you questions that make you think ๐Ÿ›‹๏ธ

Exposure therapy for acrophobia.

This procedure consists of slightly exposing yourself to your fear (in this case of altitude) and getting used to it ๐Ÿ’†... In the case of acrophobia it could be looking at pictures showing high altitudes, going up and down stairs or using lifts.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy for acrophobia.

Did you know that when you move your eyes, your brain tends to become more rational and efficient ๐Ÿง ? This is what EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is all about... But how is it applied? Imagine you suffer from anxiety just by thinking about heights ๐Ÿ˜–, the psychologist would ask you to think about it while you follow his hand with circular movements.

This simple practice has helped thousands of people, as it allows them to think and rationalize more effectively against their mental disorders, it is even widely used in the area of post-traumatic stress, don't be fooled by its simplicity ๐Ÿ˜ถ

Hypnotherapy for acrophobia.

Very similar to the previous practice with the great difference of having a wider arsenal to combat acrophobia in addition to eye movement ๐Ÿ‘€... Hypnotherapy seeks to direct your thoughts, emotions or behaviors through a talk with multiple instructions that the psychologist in question will handle.

From "lie down and imagine yourself in a very high place" to "follow this pendulum with your eyes while you listen to me"... In general, these are simple procedures that generate a change of consciousness and increased relaxation, promoting your rational side (the best weapon against phobias ๐Ÿ—ก๏ธ).

Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) for acrophobia.

It is based on the same logic of exposure therapy with the addition of virtual reality goggles, in order to make it easier to expose the fear to the patient... In the case of acrophobia it is very useful as it allows psychologists to slightly expose patients with their irrational fear without the need to travel to other places that may be dangerous ๐Ÿ’€

Imagine that a person wants to stop being afraid of cliffs but every time they see one they faint, with the glasses they can be slightly exposed to such places without the fear of falling from great heights and suffering significant damage ๐Ÿค•

Vestibular rehabilitation for acrophobia.

This therapy is special of the irrational fear of heights and some other phobias due to their particular causes; this treatment consists of practicing a series of exercises with the purpose of strengthening the vestibular system... Obtaining a greater balance and sense of stability in our being ๐Ÿง˜

This therapy is a direct attack to phobias generated by vestibular problems, that is to say, those irrational fears that make us lose balance or stability ๐Ÿซจ

Visual therapy for acrophobia.

A treatment that can greatly improve distance perception problems by training our brains to better process visual information and calculate distance correctly ๐Ÿ“... Again, this is a therapy that only applies to some phobias, like acrophobia, because it wouldn't make sense to apply this method to someone who is afraid of snakes, would it ๐Ÿฅด?

Medications for acrophobia.

Medications are not highly recommended when treating phobias unless a psychologist deems it extremely necessary, as phobias weaken you mentally and can make you susceptible to addictions ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ

Sometimes psychologists recommend beta-blockers (to prevent anxiety symptoms such as heart racing, sweating and so on), benzodiazepines (relaxants) and D-cycloserine (to enhance the effects of cognitive conceptual therapy) to promote progress in therapy ๐Ÿฉน... But again, psychologists rarely use these means and, if they do, you should only use these substances with the permission of the practitioner.

Relaxation techniques for acrophobia.

In many occasions our own behaviors encourage our anxiety and even more when we talk about disorders such as acrophobia... Learning different techniques such as deep breathing, mental anchoring or meditation can be of great help, not only for the irrational fear of altitudes but for life in general ๐Ÿ’–

Relaxation gives you self-control and rationality, 2 very effective powers against extreme altitude panic ๐Ÿ‘Š

Prognoses for acrophobia.

The chances of overcoming extreme panic at heights with the right professional help are 75% (using the multiple therapies I mentioned above) ๐Ÿซฃ... That means that every 7 or 8 people out of 10 overcome this anxiety disorder with the help of psychology.

This is great news ๐ŸŽ‰! It means that if you have this problem and you want to solve it, you will probably overcome it if you get professional help (which may represent a cost but I assure you that you are worth it ๐Ÿซต).

Frequently asked questions about acrophobia

Quick questions and answers for those who want to save time!

What is the name of the irrational fear of heights?

Acrophobia is the irrational fear of heights, whether at high or low altitudes โš–๏ธ

What is the origin or etymology of the word "acrophobia"?

It comes from the words "รกkron" (Greek word for heights) and "phobia" (term referring to irrational fears).

How rare is acrophobia?

It is estimated that 6% of people suffer from an irrational fear of heights, that is, 1 in 20 people suffer from this mental disorder ๐Ÿ˜ž

What type of phobia is acrophobia?

It is considered a specific phobia of category "environment".

Is irrational fear of heights related to vertigo?

Yes, vertigo is one of the most common symptoms of extreme dread of altitude, but they are not the same thing ๐Ÿ™…

What are the risks of acrophobia?

Losing control at different heights can symbolize very painful falls and even death ๐Ÿ’€, not to mention the psychological risks that can be caused by exaggerated panic at altitude, such as anxiety.

What are the risk factors for developing acrophobia?

Trauma (such as falls from great heights), poor parenting, teasing, prolonged stress, and even genetics.

Does irrational fear of heights generate anxiety or panic attacks?

It is an anxiety disorder linked to fear... Yes, it can generate anxiety and panic attacks ๐Ÿ˜ถ

How to differentiate acrophobia from a natural fear?

Fear of heights is natural but should not incapacitate you or generate extreme anxiety... If it makes you lose control, generates panic attacks or its origin is irrational; it is acrophobia ๐Ÿ˜“

How to overcome acrophobia?

Seeing a psychologist may be the answer you don't want to hear but it will always be the best way to overcome extreme panic at heights ๐Ÿคท

What is the best treatment for extreme altitude panic?

It totally depends on you, as each treatment can have different results depending on the individual but usually all are very positive if applied correctly.

What is the chance of overcoming acrophobia?

75% of people who suffer from irrational fear of altitudes and go to a psychologist manage to overcome their problem... Incredible, isn't it? ๐Ÿ’–

What medications should I buy if I have an irrational fear of heights?

If you ask this question you probably have not been to a psychologist and let me tell you this "DO NOT BUY DRUGS AT RANDOM" ๐Ÿคฌ, acrophobia can weaken your mind and make you susceptible to addictions, in very few cases it is recommended to use medication.

How can I take care of myself if I have acrophobia?

If you really love yourself and you are willing to make an effort to improve yourself; you should see a psychologist.... Do not look for a way to live with the irrational fear of heights, it is an anxiety disorder that needs to be cured ๐Ÿค•

What natural remedies to use for extreme altitude panic?

None, don't consume anything that a psychologist doesn't recommend... Instead practice relaxation techniques ๐Ÿ˜‰, you can learn them on the internet and they will help you in more aspects of your life.

What to do with a sudden fear of heights?

First of all check if it was irrational or not, in case it was illogical and it has happened several times, I recommend you to go to a psychologist and try to overcome your problem ๐Ÿ‘Š