Phobia Week We Have Acrophobia

Acrophobia is the irrational fear of heights. It creates a motion of discomfort that can lead to high levels of anxiety.

Too High For Me

Who’s afraid of heights? Well, your not alone. About 5% population has an irrational fear of heights. Such as climbing ladders, attending meetings on high floors, flying, bridges, or even standing on a steep hill. 

It’s one of the natural environment phobias. It includes fear of thunder and lightning (astraphobia) or water (aquaphobia.) People with acrophobia often avoid situations where they will be exposed to heights. However, this is not always possible.

The definition of acrophobia is an intense fear of heights. Those who suffer from this phobia ultimately are afflicted by heavy anxiety despite the rationality that heights cannot harm someone. 

Climbing Without Heights

I am one of those people. I love high places, but climbing or getting there is a debilitating process. Sometimes I experience vertigo or abnormal fear response to the situation. I remember my trip to New York City and going to the top of the Empire State Building; I was not aware of how tall the building is. 

That was my first experience with vertigo and my slight fear of heights. Eventually, I forgot about this incident and ended up living in Germany.


Once again my irrational fear of heights reared its ugly face when on a ski trip to the Swiss Alps our driver was maneuvering a tight turn on the front of a mountain, no one else on the bus was having a panic attack as I was. 

I mean, it was scary because there was nothing to ease our fall if we fell on the side of this mountain. My fear got worse when we were hiking on some path towards Mt St. Helens.

We ended up on the wrong side of it, with a small windy road and a sheer cliff of over a thousand feet to my right. I had to keep calm and make sure I didn’t look down, which was hard not to do. 

Air Force Height

My fear of heights has hurt some of my travel plans. I thought I was afraid of flying, but it’s not that. I’ve noticed that my white knuckle fear is only during the lift, those fifteen minutes as the plane starts taking off towards the sky. 

Its a steep incline, and I can feel my feet leaving the Earth, but once the plane levels off, I’m fine. I don’t even mind turbulence or descent. It’s just the lift-off. 

Haunted Forest
Haunted Forest

This irrational fear has stopped me from traveling, though I flew all over while in the Air Force. It makes no sense, but that’s phobias for you. 

Our fear of heights can also be genetic—all of us are born with an innate fear of heights—it’s an evolutionary necessity to keep us away from danger and protect our species from extinction. Children are born with only two fears—a fear of falling and a fear of loud noises.

It is natural to fear heights, but when fear is excessive like acrophobia, or like all other phobias, it appears to be a hyper-reaction of the normal fear response. You can develop acrophobia without a known cause. In these cases, genetics or environmental factors may play a role.

Treatment Options

There are treatment options for acrophobia. One of the main treatments for acrophobia is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT.) With this form of treatment, behavioral techniques that expose the individual to the feared situation are employed in this case, heights and high places. 

There are also other treatment options such as Talking Therapy (Counselling) Hypnotherapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP,) and or medication. Some people may need it. This isn’t a cure, but it can stop you/the person going into a full-blown panic attack. 

Millions of Americans have acrophobia, but it is very treatable. With help and support, you can start managing your phobia of heights and move on with you.

Dora Esquivel

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