“Moreover, when you avoid something that scares you, you tend to experience a sense of failure. Every time you avoid a feared object or situation, your anxiety gains strength while you lose some; you accumulate another experience of failure and another piece of evidence attesting to your weakness.” – Noam Shpancer, Ph.D.
One of the most common fears that could strike a person is the fear of heights. Acrophobia, like any other phobias, is one form of anxiety disorder that can be disabling when a person is placed in an elevation that is several feet, or even just a few meters, off the ground.
This can be a disadvantage for people whose jobs require them to be at a certain height. Imagine if you have acrophobia and you work for a company whose office is located on a higher floor of a building, and your workstation is inconveniently situated near the floor-to-ceiling glass window.
Heights are naturally something anyone can be afraid of. Not everyone can stand being way above ground and be comfortable looking down.
the feeling of irrational and paralyzing fear that often leads to panic attacks, causing the person to experience shortness of breath, palpitations or irregular heartbeat, hyperventilation, sweating, nausea, dizziness, and numbness of the knees and legs.
If you feel any of those symptoms whenever you are situated at a high place or just the thought of being at a certain height, then you most likely have acrophobia. lose your sense of balance that you are gripped with the urge to lower your body, often on all fours, and crawl.
When asked what was the distinction between panic attacks and anxiety, Greg Kushnick Psy.D., answered, “Panic attacks are not necessarily connected to a specific stressor. They may lead you to avoid certain places that bring on the horrific symptoms associated with a panic attack. If it feels like it came out of nowhere, it’s not connected to an event in the future and you need to escape a place you’re in, it’s probably panic.”
Having acrophobia may pose limitations to your activities and lifestyle. Avoidance of being in a situation you fear may limit your choices, especially with the line of work.
If you wish to be an architect, you may think twice in pursuing your ambition since the work will require you to be on higher levels of a building under construction that leaves you with a clear view of the ground.
There is also the potential of placing yourself or anyone around you in danger. If you are suddenly overcome by fear once you find yourself on higher ground, panicking might be your initial reaction.
Since being scared of heights may be considered generally normal because high places can be deemed as dangerous and thus triggers natural fear of falling, heightened reaction of that fear. It is also said that it may be a genetic counterbalance to a person’s natural instinct to remove or distance himself from danger.
Like some other phobias, acrophobia might also be the result of a past traumatic experience involving heights. They may have fallen from an elevated platform or have been left hanging from a certain distance above ground for a certain period that the incident has embedded a natural fearful reaction whenever they are placed in a similar situation.
Deal with the symptoms. As with other phobias, gradual desensitization may be utilized as a part of the therapeutic process which involves sequentially exposing you to the cause of your fear. Since it may be improbable and treacherous to expose a person with “acrophobia to an actual ledge or any high place, some practitioners use the virtual reality approach.
Cognitive therapy may also help you confront the distorted thoughts that flood your mind whenever you are exposed to heights and may change your behavior towards fear.
According to Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., “The basic premise of CBT is that our thoughts—not external events—affect the way we feel. In other words, it’s not the situation you’re in that determines how you feel, but your perception of the situation.”
There are ways to overcome acrophobia that you don’t have to live with it. Reach out to a specialist and seek help in confronting your fear of heights.