Acrophobia is an extreme irrational and unnatural fear of heights or high levels. It affects numerous individuals and is one of the most common phobias recognized today. Acrophobia can cause those who suffer from it considerable distress when faced with situations involving small or significant heights, limiting them to grounded activities.
Although some people believe the term vertigo implies the fear of heights, it is not synonymous with acrophobia. Vertigo is a condition that causes a dizzy or spinning sensation and makes a person feel disequilibrium. These sensations are often accompanied by nausea and vomiting, and may be a symptom experienced by an acrophobic.
Other symptoms that may occur when acrophobia strikes include rapid breathing, shortness of breath, irregular and/or rapid heartbeat, profuse sweating, nausea and an overall feeling of terror. An acrophobic may experience some or all of these symptoms or other feelings not listed. Acrophobics who suffer all the symptoms mentioned above are experiencing what is better known as a panic attack. Panic attacks commonly occur in many people who suffer from phobias
For the most part, acrophobia is a harmless condition physically, even though it causes severe psychological distress. However, this particular phobia can lead to dangerous situations for those who suffer from it. In fact, when in high places, some acrophobics may work themselves into such a state of anxiety that they experience a panic attack. This attack can cause them to become too disoriented to get back to ground safely. In other cases, an acrophobic may even be overcome by non-suicidal urges to jump from high places.
What causes acrophobia? Most researchers believe that it is a fear linked to falling from a high level which results in severe injury or death. Although this is a normal fear for most people, having a natural feeling of caution towards heights and being extremely terrified of them is not the same thing. This is because most acrophobics likely experienced a traumatic event that was in some way linked to heights. That being said, in certain acrophobic cases, the cause of such fear may have occurred from something completely irrational such as movies or TV.
Despite how an acrophobic develops their fear, the way acrophobia manifests itself in each person is different. Some sufferers are plagued by the fear all the time, while others only experience symptoms when faced with direct stimuli. For instance, while a balcony may trigger fear, for some, simply walking up a flight of stairs, going up a ladder or standing on a chair can cause severe distress.
For those who suffer from acrophobia, there are different treatments that may prove helpful. Just remember that different cases require diverse treatments. No two acrophobics should be diagnosed the same. Hence, what works for one acrophobic, may not help another. Furthermore, keep in mind that it will likely be more difficult to treat severe cases.
There is no reason why anyone should suffer with acrophobia. There is help available, so be sure to explore all of the options out there for best results.