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Acrophobia – what it is, how it manifests itself and how to get rid of anxiety – Zdrowie Wprost

Acrophobia - what it is, how it manifests itself and how to get rid of anxiety - Zdrowie Wprost

Phobias are still not fully understood anxiety disorders that affect a large percentage of the population. Agoraphobia – the fear of heights – is one of the most frequently diagnosed types of phobias, but we can feel extreme fear not only when we are at a height and in other situations associated with a real threat. Sometimes panic anxiety relates to situations and things that are harmless, as well as, for example, insects, which cannot really harm us.

Why does phobia appear?

The underlying cause of the phobia is still unknown. For decades, research has been carried out on phobias, which has allowed to put forward many different theses about its causes. One is traumatic childhood experiences related to a stimulus that causes fear. This thesis has not been definitively confirmed.

The fact is that phobias often affect people whose childhood was difficult for various reasons. It can be a response to an increased feeling of loneliness or rejection on the part of the parents, too high expectations of the environment, as well as the instillation of fear of certain situations and phenomena. Most importantly, anxiety disorders run in families – children of parents with anxiety disorders often grow up in a state of danger, affecting themselves. Phobias can develop as a result of a trauma that does not directly affect the stimulus that causes the fear – a person with a fear of heights does not need to be injured when falling from a tree, for example, in order to feel the fear of being at high altitude.

Phobias are a special type of anxiety disorder that must be properly managed. In this case, the key is to work with a therapist who specializes in phobias and has extensive experience in this area, because incorrectly administered treatment can become the beginning of more problems, exacerbating the anxiety and the physical symptoms associated with it. While it is true that some phobias require taming the fear through exposure to a feared stimulus or situation, this does not mean that you can support those affected by drastic measures.

Where does anxiety come from?

Claustrophobia – Fear of heights and other phobias may have different causes. Fear is one of the defense mechanisms that once prevented the extinction of the human race. Fearing, we carefully approach new phenomena, various situations and threats, thanks to which we can avoid death or harm to health. Of course, in the twenty-first century we have so much knowledge and opportunities to expand it that the “list” of our fears has greatly diminished. We are not afraid of storms, solar eclipses, lunar eclipses and other phenomena that filled our ancestors with fear. This does not mean, however, that knowledge goes hand in hand with a complete lack of fear – we are afraid of phenomena, situations, and things that are not of concern to the majority of the population. This is, inter alia, the connection with an overload on our nervous system, personality traits, depressive tendencies, genetic factors, low self-esteem, fear of evaluation by society.

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There are many factors that cause anxiety of varying intensity, but in the case of phobias, the feeling of fear arises not only when facing “danger”, but also when thinking about the phenomena, situations, activities, objects or animals that cause fear. A phobia causes anxiety that is inappropriate to the situation and threat, reducing the distance between a particular stimulus. The inability to escape leads to a panic attack of varying severity, which is very disturbing for the patient, causing the development of the so-called anxious fear.

It is estimated that up to 20% of the world’s population may suffer from various types of phobias, but only a small percentage of patients decide to start treatment. The factor that prompts you to seek help from a specialist is anxiety, which impedes daily functioning, causing a gradual withdrawal from normal life.

Acrophobia – fear of being at high altitudes

Do not confuse the phobia of heights with the discomfort that we naturally feel when staying at high altitudes, for example on glass terraces, in the mountains, while traveling by cable car or climbing high perforated stairs. Feeling anxious about getting high is normal, not a phobia. The fear that we overcome, and derive pleasure over time, for example from admiring beautiful scenery, is not a symptom of a phobia. In this case, the support of our loved ones is of great importance, because they help us overcome our weaknesses with their behavior. People with a fear of heights cannot overcome their weakness without the support of an experienced therapist; Sometimes drug therapy is also necessary if there are additional anxiety disorders.

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Fear of heights – the most common phobia

Fear of heights is one of the so-called specific phobias, which causes a burning desire to avoid stimuli that trigger anxiety and panic attacks. As a result of anxiety, a person with a fear of heights avoids flying by plane, does not book a room on the upper floors of hotels, and also avoids working in tall buildings. A person suffering from agoraphobia cannot overcome his fear, for example by looking out a window or going out onto a balcony or balcony. Moreover, the phobia causes a feeling of fear not only when facing a stimulus that provokes unpleasant sensations, but also, for example, when watching TV or taking pictures of high places and landscapes stretching from mountaintops, for example.

In agoraphobia, there is a fear of being at high altitudes and of falling, which makes normal functioning difficult or impossible. As a result of phobias, even a few meters of space, which are located in large public facilities, such as shopping centers, give rise to unjustified fear. Fear of heights causes the patient to avoid contact, in their opinion, with dangerous situations, gradually limit leaving the comfort zone, and fall into more and more emotional problems. Fear that does not arise in situations of real danger is an indication that we are dealing with a phobia that will gradually make life difficult, and we should start treatment.

How is the fear of heights manifested?

Symptoms of fear of heights include, first of all, hot flashes, rapid heartbeat, feeling of sluggishness in the legs, pain or pressure in the chest, trembling arms and legs, excessive sweating, excessive muscle tension, nausea, and dizziness. In the case of fear of heights, we are dealing with different levels of fear, which translate into a spectrum of symptoms caused by the phobia. In some cases, patients are able to stop the increased symptoms of anxiety by “escaping” into their comfort zone, but the inability to withdraw from a situation that is dangerous for the patient is a common cause of panic attacks.

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A panic attack can mimic the symptoms of a heart attack and is often described in this way by people who have a very fast heartbeat accompanied by chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and excessive sweating and are convinced they are about to die or go. crazy. A panic attack can also be associated with the appearance of an unrealistic feeling, blurred vision, and fainting, which is caused by hyperoxaemia due to hyperventilation.

High altitudes also cause other symptoms in people with a fear of heights, such as nausea and vomiting, a feeling of impending fainting and “paralysis,” rendering the patient unable to move out of fear. This situation also exacerbates the symptoms of anxiety, causing serious damage to the psyche.

How to overcome fear of heights?

To overcome the fear of heights, it is necessary to cooperate with an experienced therapist. Often people close to a sick person try to “cure” their fear using methods that make the condition worse. It is true that in treating phobias it is necessary to confront the threat in order to tame the fear and make sure that we are truly safe. The small steps method, which requires professional support, is used to tame anxiety. Treatment does not begin with taming the fear, but rather by finding its cause, if this requires the type of treatment being undertaken.

The key to a phobia is learning to control your emotions, making it easier for you to deal with your weaknesses. By controlling emotions, you can, among other things, avoid the typical symptoms of a panic attack and the accompanying malaise. The method of small steps is one of the best and most effective ways to combat phobias, as long as it is used by an experienced therapist. Sometimes a psychiatrist is also involved in treatment, which turns out to be necessary when the patient also suffers from anxiety disorders or other mental disorders.


Read also:
Emetophobia – what is it? Causes, symptoms and treatment

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