Acrophobia Definition, Symptoms, Reason, Treatment

Acrophobia is an exaggerated or extreme fear of heights.


Acrophobia is an exaggerated or extreme fear of heights. Phobias are part of anxiety disorders, in which a person has an intense or irrational fear of certain objects or situations.

Acrophobia is one type of phobia that is quite often found. Most people with acrophobia are women.


Some of the factors that are thought to trigger acrophobia in a person include:

1. Traumatic experiences, especially those related to falling from a high place or other accidents. The fear of heights is a normal fear found in humans.

2. However, if a traumatic experience occurs, this fear can become excessive and lead to acrophobia. This excessive fear can also arise from witnessing other people having accidents related to heights.

3. Evolution factor. As explained earlier, the fear of heights is natural for everyone. Even infants and young children show fear when exposed to heights. When these protective mechanisms go to extremes, a person can develop acrophobia.

4. Imitate. A child with a parent who has acrophobia is more likely to develop acrophobia as well.


If you experience symptoms of acrophobia for six months or more, and these symptoms interfere with your daily life, you should immediately consult a doctor.

Generally, this disorder can be diagnosed through history taking or a detailed medical interview. The doctor can ask about the symptoms you feel when you are at height, how long these symptoms have been present, past traumatic events related to heights, and so on.


The recognizable signs of someone who has acrophobia include:

1. Panic attacks when at height. This panic is usually accompanied by symptoms of rapid breathing, gasping for air, irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea, shaking, fainting or feeling dizzy, and so on.
2. Strong fear of climbing, descending, or being at heights.
3. Anxiety that arises when going to a high place.
4. Sudden reactions occur when you are at a height, for example kneeling, looking for something to hold, and so on.
5. Avoiding heights (a person may refuse to work in a tall building, or refuse to meet friends who live on high-floor apartments, and so on).
6. In some cases, vertigo attacks can also appear.
7. Realizing the fear is irrelevant.


Several types of therapy and medications can be considered to treat acrophobia, including:

1. Desensitization. This therapy is considered an effective therapy to treat acrophobia. The therapist will provide exposure to the patient about what is frightening, and gradually try to reduce the fear. For example, in the case of acrophobia, the therapist can give the task of climbing stairs, gradually the stairs that need to be climbed will be higher and the fear of climbing stairs will be reduced.

2. Through this process the therapist seeks to understand why and how the patient becomes afraid of heights. Relaxation methods can be taught to patients to help overcome these fears.

3. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Through this therapy someone with acrophobia will be taught to modify fear behavior with positive behavior.

4. Medications, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications may be prescribed to help control symptoms.

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