Acrophobia (in different technical languages also referred to as Altophobia or Hypsophobie) is a fear of heights or fear of depths. It is recognized as a so-called anxiety disorder, which belongs to the sphere of phobias. The name derives from the Greek word ἄκρος “Akros,” which means the summit, tip, or height.
Acrophobia occurs, inter alia, in the towers, high mountains, slopes, on bridges, high-rise buildings, balconies, ladders, etc. Acrophobia is sometimes combined with other anxiety disorders, such as the fear of death. Acrophobia can also be involved in the fear of flying. However, it is not the same.
By definition, the fear of the opposite situation is inappropriate because there is no or little objective danger. To trigger the fear an extreme height is not absolutely necessary.
A few meters often enough. In -depth psychological concepts, the fear of heights is connected to the fear of the will of “self- dropping.” There are people in whom the acrophobia occurs outdoors only. If they stand behind glass, there is no fear response.
In addition to the actual fear response about depersonalization, mental symptoms of acrophobia are intense attempts to restore control of situation during a panic paroxysm.
As with other phobias, there are also physical complaints here. Within a few seconds or minutes, the symptoms can come to their climax: they are, among the others, shortness of breath, palpitations, tachycardia, drowsiness, dizziness, sweating, chest pain, or tightness in the chest. The height from which the fear of heights comes into action is called “fear level.” It is different from person to person.
The emergence of acrophobia can have very different causes. The divergent appearance may complicate a simple and rapid diagnosis. Basically, acrophobia is innate in especially over-sensitive people, but can also be learned, for example, by an unfortunate fall.
Usually the development of mental instability can already be recognized in early childhood. Apart from the possibility of a deep psychological etiology, fighting the disease symptoms is now very successful acting pragmatically addressed in the form of early education venture.
Acrophobia is therapeutically treatable either with medication, using various relaxation techniques, or by way of psychotherapy. Today, a repertoire hypnosis techniques now found an input in the treatment. As part of the risk education, an anxiety therapy is practiced with the methods of “confrontation” and the so-called “gradual approach” to the specific target problem. It is about a careful building of self-confidence and anxiety control in the reflected practical handling of the phobia form.
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