Acrophobia or the fear of heights is one of the most common phobias know to man. It is normal to have fears of certain things but a phobia is much worse and often irrational. Almost everyone would feel a degree of anxiety peering over the edge of a cliff on a windy day. However, someone suffering for acrophobia is so afraid of heights that they fear climbing a ladder, walking onto a balcony or crossing a bridge. I have a friend who covers her face and hides under the dashboard of a car whenever her husband drives across any kind of bridge. The symptoms of acrophobia can vary. Typically when a persons phobia is triggered the heart rate, breathing and body temperature increase. They may feel nauseous, dizzy, weak or shake. They perceive the situation to be much worse than it really is so their body goes into a fight or flight mode.In addition to the uncomfortable physical symptoms of acrophobia a persons life can be disrupted in serious ways. For example, an aspiring executive might decline a promotion if meant the office was on a higher floor.Or they might not be able to put up Christmas lights or get an errant frisbee off the roof or out of a tree. Some are even unable to stand on a chair to change a light bulb without a heightened degree of anxiety. Treatments for acrophobia are important to secure as soon as possible. Talking to professional therapist can be helpful. Sometimes talking about the fear with someone who is removed from the situation can be helpful.However, in the final analysis overcoming acrophobia involves learning to manage your thinking and reactions.Treatments for Acrophobia The first step in overcoming a fear of heights is learning to control the physical symptoms. When faced with a threatening situation, taking slow, deep breaths can help slow the heart rate and increase the oxygen flow to muscles to keep from tensing up. If possible, a few minutes of meditation may be effective in relieving some tension. Relaxing music, aromatherapy, and even some stretching or light massage can help relieve the physical symptoms of a phobia. Many acrophobic people treat their fears through avoidance. Choosing to live in a single-story house, not putting holiday lights on the roof, and hiring someone to clean the gutters are all ways that an acrophobe could avoid heights in their daily life. Though it may appear helpful because the person no longer experiences the anxiety, avoidance is not a realistic long term treatment. Unexpected situations occur that force a person to face their phobia, and knowing how to overcome it helps build confidence and reduce anxiety. Behavior therapy is another one helpful way to treat acrophobia. In this form of treatment the acrophobe is encouraged to take small steps to desensitize himself to the phobia. This might include seeing pictures taken from a height, climbing one stair at a time and then incrementally increasing the height. At each additional step he learns to control his breathing and his physical symptoms therebytraining his mind to accept the the once feared situation as safe. Progress can be swift depending on the patient.Flooding is another method of desensitization which involves “flooding” the patient with the fearful situation without any gradual desensitization. The theory is that the flight or fight reaction to the phobia is very intense but wears off after a while. Then the patient realizes that the situation is not a bad as he believed it was and repeat the process until the fear is conquered. This works only with patients who do not have health conditions that can aggravated by their reactions to their fear. This would include persons with heart or high blood pressure or any other of a variety of conditions. Medications like prescriptions for tranquilizers and anti depressants help some individuals cope with this fear by minimizing the physical symptoms to the phobia. Anyone choosing to use medications must be aware of the possible side effects such as impaired abilities and addictions. Furthermore medications do not address the underlying issues driving the fear.The most effective way to treat acrophobia begins in the mind. The physical symptoms acrophobia are very real but they are an exaggerated response to the thought process about the situation. If the thinking is changed so is the reaction.With the right direction the thinking can change in very short period of time so you can begin to enjoy life without the anxiety of acrophobia. To learn how to do that in the comfort and safety of your own home click on relief from acrophobia – the fear of heights.
Acrophobia – Overcoming Fear of Height Quickly and Permanently
- Date: October 13, 2010
- Author: Penny Pettman