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I have a fear of heights.
Acrophobia or fear of heights is one of the most common phobias in the world.
It is an extreme or irrational fear or phobia of heights, especially when one is not particularly high up.
Heights never bothered me when I was younger though. Growing up I was extremely fond of heights, climbing up trees and jumping into pools from high places was my favorite thing to do in my childhood days. Summer vacations were mostly spent cannonballing into the pool. My parents always used to warn me about heights and I never really listened to them.
One day as I was playing in the pool as usual. I went up to the high diving board to jump into the pool as I always did. I did this all the time and didn’t think much of it. As I was going to jump into the pool I slipped everything after that was somehow in slow motion, I remember hitting my head and falling into the water and after that, I woke up in hospital. My parents explained to me how I almost drowned. I was knocked out before I even hit the water. That experience really shook me, after that whenever I get on high a platform without any hand railing or something to hold on to I feel as though my leg is slipping under from me. Whenever I look down my head starts spinning and my vision gets blurred. I can’t even stand properly.
The fear of heights in me was instilled in me by a simple slip. The trauma of drowning never affects me like it affects other people, maybe it’s because of the fact that I was already unconscious when I hit the water, and because of that, I don’t have any fear of water.
I have tried many means to overcome my Acrophobia, but it just seems to get worse as I grow up. Experiments have shown that infants and young children are naturally cautious around heights. This suggests that people are born with a dislike of heights. Studies have revealed that a fear of heights often starts, or worsens later in life.
They typically develop between the ages of 15 and 25, says Paul Blenkiron, a consultant in psychiatry at Bootham Park Hospital in York and spokesperson for the Royal College of Psychiatrists. He says this is largely due to our sense of balance. As you get older, your organ of balance tends to deteriorate and you’re likely to feel more physically vulnerable.
“Lots of children have fears, but grow out of them, and we don’t label it a phobia at this stage. If the fear sticks with them in adulthood, It’s a phobia and this can continue throughout life”.
It should be noted that we are all afraid of heights since childhood, but the degree of fear varies from one person to another. This fear is also present in animals and it is adaptive, it avoids dangerous falls. As for people with height phobia, the reasons for their disorder may be totally different.
Generally, these events usually take place during childhood. From the most common events such as falls to major accidents in which the victim is seriously affected and this may have an impact on a phobia. This does not imply that all people who undergo some unpleasant event related to height will experience acrophobia.
On the other hand, there are people who acquired this disarray through observation even though they were not injured. This process is called vicarious learning. For example, if we see a wasp bite our older brother and observe his panic reaction, it is quite possible that we feel fear every time a similar insect approaches us.
Currently, researchers are investigating the inheritance of predisposing factors to this phobia. It is believed that in families with acrophobia, children are born observing the distress and eventually develop this disorder.
The deviations in our cognitive processes also play an important role in causing such phobias. The processing wrong the data on heights can rise excessive concern and stress response, leading to a phobia. A tendency to overestimate the occurrence of accidents or the severity of accidents is common when this happens.
Not all phobias are clinically relevant. For example, having a disproportionate fear of tarantulas is not a major concern for a person who spends most of his time in a big city.
For an acrophobic, these anxiety symptoms trigger several avoidance behaviors. Running away or avoiding the stimuli that trigger your fear keeps the disorder going. They try to avoid the problem as much as they can. They reject fun activities that involve heights and often lose their social skills Avoiding your phobia is not a good way to overcome it.
How to overcome the phobia to heights?
If your fear of heights is not pathological, there are ways to keep calm that can distract you from these fears. It is possible to relax in situations of anxiety, however, if you really do have a phobia that harms you noticeably, it is best to seek professional help.
There are psychological assessment tools such as questionnaires that allow us to know if we are facing an unreasonable fear or not. There are several therapies that have proven to be a great help for acrophobia. Even so, it is not known which is the best method and each person is different. However, seeking a suitable treatment is essential to improve the quality of life of those affected.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
This is the most commonly used therapy for treating phobias. Procedures such as exposure techniques have a long and successful tradition in research and clinical application. These methods gradually bring the acrophobic closer to the object of their fears. They become progressively more secure and reduce anxiety reactions.
Patients can be directed by professionals to the fear stimuli or submit directly to self-exposure techniques, in which they make more direct contact with their fears. On the other hand, the exhibition can be symbolic or live. It can be done even in a group or individually.
The symptoms do not always disappear completely but can carry out daily activities such as riding a lift or looking out a window without it paralyzing them in fear. Psychological intervention is likely to greatly increase their well-being.
In addition, these therapies are under continuous review. In fact, the rise of new technologies, such as virtual reality, has helped people face their fears in a more controlled setting. An acrophobic can overcome challenges that he could not even imagine before.
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