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Phobia of heights: causes, symptoms


The fear of heights is scientifically called acrophobia, the disease affects about 7% of people around the world. Of course, everyone will worry before parachuting. However, a separate category of people in such situations experiences tremendous fear, which is very exhausting. This feature makes it difficult to lead a full life and enjoy the adrenaline. To cope with the problem, it is necessary to look for the root of acrophobia, and then direct all forces to the struggle. Consider the main aspects in order.

Step number 1. Identify the true causes of fear

  1. Before proceeding with the elimination of acrophobia, it is necessary to identify the root of its occurrence. In some cases, the disease requires some treatment, not mental therapy, since the latter is aimed at eliminating neurosis.
  2. Many people with such a phobia are very stressed even when they think they will have to be on top. The reaction of the body is manifested in accelerated heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and sweating.
  3. In such situations, treatment is required aimed specifically at combating fear of heights (not to be confused with other mental disorders). If acrophobia has not grown into a higher stage, you can cope with it if you take measures in a timely manner.
  4. Analyze your life, remember situations in which you lost something important because of fear. Perhaps you were offered a prestigious position, but you had to refuse it, because you had to work at the highest level. In this case, the phobia has already had serious consequences, because you could not suppress it.
  5. Remember all such situations, write them in a notebook and analyze. Such a move will help identify the full extent of the problem. You will understand how much the fear of heights affects a full life.

Step number 2. Learn the effects of acrophobia

  • After identifying the true causes, it is important to understand if you can physically suffer due to your phobia. Many people do not take their fear seriously, so they do not consider it dangerous. If the fear of heights has not crossed reasonable boundaries, you are unlikely to suffer in situations characterized by a phobia.
  • It should be understood that important aspects that provoke acrophobia are completely harmless. This includes a roller coaster (entertainment), airplane flight (mode of transportation), skyscrapers (high-rise buildings). Similar structures were built taking into account heavy loads.
  • Many people care about the issue of flight by plane. To reassure yourself before the holidays, study the statistics of the flight you need. Many airlines claim that the probability of a crash is 1: 20,000,000. Agree, impressive indicators compared with the fact that the probability of a lightning strike is 1: 1.000.000.
  • Step number 3. Know how to relax

    1. Learn to relax through meditation, yoga or Pilates (breathing exercises). Such techniques help to know oneself, thereby identifying and suppressing the problem from the inside.
    2. Try to concentrate on breathing, while not thinking about anything. After 5 minutes, begin to imagine the fear that settles inside when you are at a height. Eradicate it, as they say, by the power of thought. Push the phobia out, visualize the process as it emerges from your body and subconscious.
    3. A more common way to eliminate phobias is yoga. Experienced instructors will make you think only of yourself. Under certain conditions, you will be in harmony with your own body. Finding peace in the process of training, the body begins to sweat less at the thought of height, pressure and heart rate normalize.
    4. Many people live with a constant sense of anxiety and fear. Such behavior is caused by poor sleep (in particular insomnia), malnutrition, "sluggish" lifestyle. Correct the situation: balance the diet, go to bed no later than 22.00, sign up for a gym / aerobic room.

    Step number 4. Do not avoid phobias

    1. After knowing yourself, begin to gradually encounter situations that provoke a phobia. No need to force jump with a parachute, a fairly light combination of circumstances (intentional) is enough.
    2. Gradually begin to rise to a height, constantly observing the reaction. For example, first go to visit a friend who lives on the 3-5th floor. Go out with him to the balcony, wait a few minutes. Do not look down, concentrate on trees, beautiful sky, etc.
    3. Get your company together, go to the ski resort. Take the funicular up, then learn the technique of snowboarding / skiing. Constantly praise yourself for your achievements and for the distance traveled from the bottom of the mountain to its middle / top. In this way, you combine training (self-development) and the fight against acrophobia.
    4. After a certain time, you will notice that if you do not concentrate on the fear of heights, everything is not so bad. Perhaps in the future you will visit the desire to jump from the bridge, being fastened to a rope. The main thing is do not stop there, but do not force yourself to excessive stress.
    5. Sometimes it’s hard enough to force yourself to fight fear. People find dozens of excuses, so as not to fall into "delicate" situations. Try to pre-configure that extermination of the phobia will make life brighter and richer. Do not refuse the offer to ride a ride together or jump from a springboard in the pool.

    Step number 5. Explore your own possibilities

    1. At this stage, you need to find out how you can control your fear. It is worth mentioning that caffeinated drinks provoke a phobia and cause anxiety. Try to give up energy and coffee, replace the latter with chicory. Pull on green tea with honey, eat more chocolate.
    2. Find out what you can do to eliminate fear. Perhaps you constantly refuse riding rides, because even the thought of it makes the heart beat faster. In this case, a more radical measure will be required (medication, a trip to a psychotherapist). Most likely, the doctor will prescribe a therapy aimed at correcting cognitive behavior.

    Step number 6. Choose a therapist

    1. Experienced professionals will tell you exactly how to deal with fear in your case. Of course, one disorder manifests itself differently in a particular person. Examine the city’s psychotherapists, then call and make an appointment. At the end of the course, you will notice that it has become much easier to treat a phobia, and in some situations not to notice it at all.
    2. It is important to choose the right doctor who specializes in acrophobia. The main task of a psychotherapist is to reduce the level of fear and methods of dealing with the disorder. In most cases, therapy is accompanied by medication.
    3. When choosing a specialist, pay attention to accreditation, available licenses and certificates. Give preference to doctors who have previously experienced such disorders. If possible, read reviews and talk directly with former patients.
    4. It is worth knowing in advance how comfortable the treatment conditions are, what medications you will have to take (negative and positive characteristics, pricing, duration of the course, etc.). Ask all your questions before signing a treatment agreement.

    Step number 7. Learn medication

    1. As mentioned earlier, many medications help reduce the fear of heights. Not all specialists are familiar with the available drugs, so read the information before the session. Upon arrival to the doctor, consult with him, exclude unnecessary, select the main thing.
    2. As practice shows, in the process of treating acrophobia, doctors can prescribe antidepressants, beta-inhibitors, benzodiazepines. Each species has a different focus, so read carefully about the side effects. Before taking medications, make sure they are perfect for you.
    3. Antidepressants are aimed at reducing stress. By influencing the nerve endings, anxiety is reduced, mood rises, a person becomes calmer when he finds himself in difficult situations (in your case, being on top).
    4. Beta inhibitors do not allow adrenaline to be produced instantly and in large quantities. Such medicines are prescribed for people whose acrophobia is accompanied by shaking hands, unstable work of the heart muscle, and too much perspiration.
    5. If we talk about benzodiazepines, they have a short-term effect. However, if you need to get rid of anxiety, as they say, here and now, drugs are ideal. It is worth taking them with caution, as addiction is possible.

    Step number 8. Do not use drastic measures

  • Do not try to get rid of acrophobia by knocking it out with a wedge. Often you can hear advice that encourages a person to do things that lead to stress. Do not listen to the instructions of relatives "You need to jump with a parachute!". You must come to such a decision yourself when you find inner harmony.
  • According to scientists, acrophobia refers to congenital characteristics, and not to acquired. You may not be able to overcome it completely. Actions "wedge" can negatively affect the psyche.
  • If you follow the recommendations of a psychotherapist and take appropriate medications, you will learn how to suppress phobia yourself. The brain will begin to react differently to the occurrence of "danger", so the need to knock out a wedge with a wedge will disappear.
  • Practical recommendations

    1. Regularly visit the observation deck, which offers a beautiful view of the city. Try not to look down to eliminate the possibility of dizziness.
    2. Book a swim, use springboards to fight fear. To start, jump from a low level, gradually move higher. Perform actions under the guidance of a trainer.
    3. Find people who have the same problem. Discuss fears, share emotions, and work out a plan of action together.
    4. If you are renting a low floor, move higher. Daily enjoy the scenery that opens from the window. After the time you get used to the view, begin to enjoy it.

    There is no need to put up with acrophobia if it prevents you from fully functioning (resting, working, enjoying life). Look for ways to fight, do not stop there.

    What is acrophobia?

    Acrophobia is a specific psychological deviation that manifests itself in a feeling of tremendous panic, which instantly builds up at a time when the patient is at a certain distance from the ground. But not everyone can say what a phobia is called with a fear of heights, and even more so to distinguish it from ordinary fear. He rests on the usual instinct of self-preservation, designed to preserve human life and the usual level of health. Unlike the harmless fear of heights, acrophobia is a type of psychological pathology that needs to be eliminated.

    The development of modern technology has allowed people not only to travel on the earth, but also to fly through the air. This fact indirectly affected the further spread of height phobia. In some cases, the disease is so neglected that patients cannot ride lifts or escalators on their own.

    A panic fear of heights is fraught with the fact that the patient begins to experience not the most pleasant feelings already at the minimum height, which even in theory is not able to harm a person. It happens that the patient is in a similar condition for many years, starting from early childhood. But this is rarer than the rule, so most patients have acquired a similar pathology at some stage in their lives.

    To assess their psychological health, any person can conduct a kind of test for fear of heights. To do this, you need to be at a certain distance from the ground. He is sick if he feels:

    • dizziness,
    • pain in the eyes
    • bouts of nausea
    • drop in body temperature
    • general weakness
    • panic attacks
    • sighing too fast or rapid pulse,
    • cramps or jittery limbs.

    But when making any conclusions, it should be remembered that psychiatrists emit a similar condition, more characteristic of the instinct of self-preservation, than a collection of psychological pathologies. Without expert advice, there is a significant risk of confusing these concepts, and accordingly, harming your health by the lack of suitable treatment.

    Each person in his own way experiences a phobia of height. One cannot go to the balcony without trembling in his knees or fly on a plane without a dose of sedatives, while the other shakes panicky at the mere thought that he has to go to any height. At the moment, even if we collect all the available knowledge about human development, no one can say for sure what causes fear. There are only assumptions about the built-in defense reaction, remaining as an inheritance from the memory of DNA.

    A popular version of the development of human phobia is a negative experience, as a result of which a person received physical or moral trauma, falling from a certain height:

    • severe stress during childhood,
    • wild imagination
    • fell down from a tall bush or tree.

    Psychologists believe that the causes of acrophobia are somatic pathologies of the body. True or not, no one knows. But many phobias are accompanied by errors in the functioning of the vestibular system. It is a fact.

    What is acrophobia

    Acrophobia is a disease that refers to a loss of orientation in space. A man is scared to look down even at low altitude. He begins to feel sick, dizziness occurs. He fears not the highness itself, but the consequences of the fall; this factor is embedded in the subconscious.

    Fear of heights may be present not only in humans, but also in animals. If we consider the problem from a medical point of view, then dizziness at altitude is considered a normal factor. For many, this feature develops into a pathology. A person is afraid to look at the earth from any height. He begins to slow down, his heart rate slows down, and there may also be malfunctions in the stomach and intestines. According to statistics, 7% of people in the world suffer from this disease. In women, this fear is more developed than in men.

    Causes of Fear

    The fear of elevation has different reasons, and psychologists have their own reasons for this. Many people think that the instinct of self-preservation of the personality is expressed in this way. Others believe that a person has acquired this fear throughout his life, and this is only connected with his mental state. The causes of acrophobia are different.

    1. Congenital phobia associated with a sense of self-preservation.
    2. Fear acquired throughout life. If a child falls from a tree, he will have impressions for life. He will be afraid of heights and falls.
    3. The psychological state of a person is violated. He is very impressionable and suspicious. The mere thought of height causes intense fear and a storm of emotions.
    4. Disorders of orientation in space, that is, a poor vestibular apparatus. Often in such people, dizziness and nausea begin on a hill.

    No need to joke around people who are afraid. Regardless of the reason, psychological or medical assistance is needed.

    Acrophobia may occur due to a fall from a height.

    Symptoms of the disease

    Feeling fear is normal. This emotion is present in every person from birth. If a person begins to be afraid when standing at a height, then this is natural, because he worries about his safety. But, if the fear takes on acute forms of the disorder, then the help of specialists is required.

    Symptoms in adults

    Symptoms in men and women of acrophobia do not differ. There are two types of state of the body: mental and somatic. Somatic conditions in adults include the following factors:

    • dizziness occurs at a height
    • because of fright, the heartbeat becomes faster,
    • disturbances in the work of the stomach,
    • pupil enlargement
    • feet and hands are shaking.

    Mental disorders include the following factors:

    • emotional surge when a person begins to think about the consequences of falling from a height,
    • fear of accidentally falling while walking,
    • strong impressionability and suspiciousness: such people, even in a dream, are afraid of heights, fear is present in the mind.

    Fear of falling while walking is a violation

    Symptoms of Pediatric Acrophobia

    If a teenager has symptoms of acrophobia, then this does not mean that the disease is congenital. In childhood, psychological factors play an important role: the child began to walk, climbed onto the sofa, fell and began to cry. This situation remained in his subconscious for many years. Fear of heights often leads children into a state of shock, their temperature rises, they cry a lot. For children, such factors are quite dangerous, because panic can lead them to a nervous breakdown.

    In order for the symptoms not to begin to manifest in childhood, it is necessary to enroll children in sports sections. Many sports (bicycle, football, basketball, figure skating) are well developed coordination of movement and significantly strengthen the vestibular apparatus. Победить фобию помогут мультфильмы и книги: персонажи часто сталкиваются с препятствиями, борются с ними и побеждают.

    Положительные действия быстро помогают справляться с психическими проблемами и развить качества лидера у ребенка.

    Children's fear of heights will help to defeat cartoons and books

    Medication method

    There are no special pills that relieve symptoms of acrophobia. The cause of fear will not go away, remaining in the subconscious.

    With the help of antidepressants, you can only remove the nervous state and anxiety. Doctors recommend taking Diazepam or Midazolam in such cases.

    Psychotherapeutic methods of struggle

    Fear of heights is nervousness, you can get rid of it if you go to an appointment with a therapist. He will tell you how to properly control and manage your emotions. There are special techniques for this.

    1. Cognitive behavioral treatment. Thoughts act on behavior. If you learn to control yourself, you can really defeat fear.
    2. Gestalt therapy is also aimed at controlling emotions. If you get rid of bad emotions, you can overcome fear.
    3. Hypnosis method. Correction of the internal state is carried out in a trance. It is suggested that fear of heights is an unreasonable phobia.

    Self-treatment methods

    How to overcome the fear of heights at home? If a person is able to manage his behavior and feelings, he is able to overcome fear on his own. To do this, do meditation. Self-hypnosis also helps relieve a nervous state. The technique helps to fight fears well. It is necessary to apply the method of mental vision.

    The face-to-face technique also helps to overcome fear of heights. Do not run away from danger, you need to consider it well. You are afraid of heights and live on the 5th floor. You need to go to the balcony and start self-hypnosis.

    Repeat to yourself that there is nothing to fear, and the fear will soon go away. At this moment, you should not look down, you need to focus on your thoughts. To overcome acrophobia, many recommend:

    • go on excursions to high areas (do not look long down),
    • go to the pool: to overcome emotions, start jumping from a springboard,
    • telling people what's bothering
    • you need to train your fear while riding rides, etc.

    Ski jumping will help to overcome fear

    Provocative factors

    At first, the researchers assumed that the traumatic situation in childhood, which occurred at a certain height, leaves an imprint on the human psyche, provoking the development of acrophobia. Over time, it was proved that not one, but a combination of reasons leads to such consequences:

    1. Disruptions in the functioning of the vestibular apparatus - when it begins to work poorly, a person loses control over his own body, which increases the risk of falling even from a small height.
    2. Sick relatives - genetics have found that parents with a sick mentality provoke the onset of the disease in their children.
    3. Injured brain - the presence of a hematoma of varying severity in the head, or a sluggish infection.
    4. Improper upbringing is a strict family environment in which the habit of praising and supporting a child is not encouraged.
    5. Too much stress.
    6. Heavy use of alcoholic beverages causing clogging of the body.
    7. Certain character traits are an increased level of anxiety, emotionality, shyness and strong suspiciousness.

    Along with other opinions, there is a theory that fear of heights is a primitive instinct inherited from ancestors. The first people were more guided by their instincts and feelings than modern society. Therefore, it is not surprising that, at the sight of height, a primitive man was afraid for his life, evoking the instinct of self-preservation.

    An indirect proof of this theory is that many animals that see well are also scared of heights, confirming the instinctive nature of such a step.

    To understand how to overcome the fear of heights, you need to evaluate not only the negative sides of this phenomenon, but also the good ones:

    1. Any kind of fear is a manifestation of the instinct of self-preservation, aimed at protecting the life of a particular individual. Therefore, while fear is under human control, and does not cause particular moral inconvenience, it does not need outside interference.
    2. At that moment when a person is afraid of something, the level of adrenaline rises inside his body, bringing a sense of moral satisfaction. Therefore, some people like to tickle their nerves by watching horror movies. The fear of heights has a similar effect.

    Psychiatrists have long appreciated the instinctive influence of the senses, and successfully apply it in their work. One of these tricks can be called artificial provocation aimed at a special challenge of fear. Under his influence, the instinct of self-preservation wakes up, and a person who is in a prolonged depression rethinks the meaning of his life.

    Fear, which has a strong emotional connotation, often turns into obsession, causing some harm to the human psyche. If in more detail, then the organs of a frightened person function in an unusual mode for themselves. Such a restructuring confuses the body, leading to loss of consciousness, stroke or interruptions in the heart rhythm.

    Being in a state of intense fear for a long time wears out the human body, shortening its lifespan. Psychiatrists claim that carriers of fears of water, transport, and so on, live 20 years less than other people who are more successful in controlling their emotions and can say that "I'm not afraid of heights."

    Unfortunately, not all phobias can be eliminated on their own. Without appropriate treatment, a person will gradually begin to fear the very thought of the object of his fears. This fact will increase the time period spent in a state of stress, which will contribute to the occurrence of somatic or psychological diseases. In more advanced cases, patients went crazy or committed suicide.

    But not everything is as hopeless as it looks at first glance. If a person is afraid, but his fear has not yet entered the phase of acrophobia, then he can use certain methods. In the event that everything is done correctly, then the help of specialists will not be required, and he himself will understand how to stop being afraid of heights:

    1. It is necessary to climb regularly on the hills, gradually increasing the height of the required point.
    2. When a person is upstairs, the first thing he needs to do is concentrate his attention on any subject located a little further away from him. Such a trick will calm, and for a while delay the onset of fear.
    3. If there is no desire to go somewhere, then you can do everything you need at home. To do this, visualize your innermost fear. Psychologists advise a person to get comfortable, close their eyes, and imagine that he was at an impressive height. Around blows warm air, and under your feet is a hard surface. It is strong and does not move, which means it cannot fall, therefore, the person on it will not fly away.
    4. When the phobia of height begins to disappear, then it is quite possible to consolidate success. For this, the most decisive jump with a parachute. Having survived the fall and successful landing, former acrophobes laughingly recall their past fears.
    5. If a person could not perform at least one of the above, then it is better for him to use the help of a specialist. Over time, he will not be able to control his feelings, which will thoroughly ruin his quality of life.

    Additional fight options

    Any person has a set of characteristic features of behavior and personality inherent in him alone. Therefore, even in theory it is impossible to create such a technique that will help all people understand how to deal with the fear of heights. In this case, the best option would be to contact a psychologist working with phobias. And he will pick up a tool suitable for a particular person.

    Moreover, experts themselves warn against rash self-medication. An inexperienced person may overlook small nuances, and all of his treatment will fail. And qualified psychologists for a long time and in detail affect all aspects of subconscious fears, increasing the chance of a final deliverance from a tormented nightmare.

    A popular treatment for acrophobia is a course of hypnosis sessions. An experienced doctor puts the patient in a suitable condition, and corrects all the appropriate points. Such treatment ends successfully, and most patients do not even remember the existence of phobias in the future.

    Drug treatment

    Paradoxically, medications are useless against phobias. Basically, their use is intended to alleviate the general picture of the disease, and to remove the symptoms that torment the patient.

    Therefore, any advertisement about wonderful pills that eliminated a phobia in a couple of uses is a myth! Medicine is in search of a suitable medicine, but when she finds it, remains a big question.

    For a more complete effect of psychotherapy, the following drugs are recommended for use:

    • antidepressants - are used for six months, one of the most popular drugs is imipramine,
    • vitamins (the most suitable Magne B6),
    • tranquilizers - possible administration for a period not exceeding two weeks (phenazepam),
    • Nootropics - favorably affect blood circulation in the brain.

    When a child is afraid of heights

    Infantile acrophobia is part of instinctive behavior. He does not understand the name of the phobia, that fear of heights prevents him from living. All the behavior of the child is directly dependent on the instinct of self-preservation, which tries to protect him until the moment of final maturity. But in very rare cases, children's fears can reach a level beyond which they cannot cope with their feelings without the help of a specialist. Psychiatrists do not like to work with such patients because they are too young and uncontrollable.

    Sometimes acrophobia appears after some cases associated with a traumatic fall or excessive parental care. Parents, trying to do better for the child, in every possible way set him up, are afraid of being on top.

    Prevention of childhood acrophobia

    An equally important role is played by the prevention of childhood acrophobia, which includes:

    • sports activities involving classes at an altitude (scooter, bicycle),
    • games with training the vestibular apparatus (to climb a rope, ride on a swing),
    • warning parents of the possible consequences of excessive suggestion about the dangers of heights.

    Any child is more likely to accept indirect parenting. If you do not force him to do certain things, but read books and fairy tales in which they talk about overcoming any fears, then it is likely that the child will forget about his feelings and be more calm about the possibility of being at his best.

    Why is man not afraid of anything

    In any struggle with conflicting feelings, one must not forget that fear is a natural reaction aimed at preserving the life of a particular individual. Therefore, if a person is on a certain height, and feels relatively safe, this condition is no less dangerous than a panic fear of heights.

    Such emotions often lead to manifestations of carelessness, when a person, without realizing it, can jump down. This is the less studied side of such a phobia, which can cause no less dangerous fearlessness. Therefore, if a person wants to jump from a high-rise building, believing that nothing will happen to him, then he urgently needs to be led to a psychotherapist.

    All fears are part of a person’s daily life. Therefore, they will always be present in it, taking any form of feelings. But if their presence is very harmful to the quality of life, then they must be disposed of with the help of a specialist. It must be understood that he cannot help without the desire of the patient himself. Therefore, he himself should want to control his life, directing it in the necessary direction.