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Do you suffer from acrophobia, better known as a fear of heights? If so, you're not alone because more than 26 million Americans suffer from some type of phobia. These phobias can change your life and make you fearful and anxious. The fear of heights is probably the most common fear among humans and it is persists in varying degrees.
Most people have some dread of heights. After all, leaning over a 25 story building and watching the traffic race by is not really a comforting thought to anyone. But if you have a serious fear of heights, this experience can be excruciatingly painful and anxiety-provoking to the point that you are unable to function.Some people fear standing on a two-step stool while others are only uncomfortable on the roof of a tall building. Some people fear the roof of a house and others fear a second-story apartment.
What actually happens when someone has a phobia?
There are a variety of physiological and psychological changes that occur. The heart rate increases, respiration escalates, and body temperature may even become higher than normal. Many people who are afraid of heights feel faint or nauseated at the thought of it. Some people begin to cry hysterically or shake uncontrollably. They have an unreal perception of the danger that is involved by just being on a ladder sometimes.
Unfortunately, fear of heights can change your life and phobias can result in constantly feeding yourself negative affirmations. Rather than focusing on a solution, you continually say to yourself, "I am scared to death of heights", "I will fall and die", or "I will become violently ill if I step on that ladder". The more you say these things to yourself, the more likely it is that phobias will alter your life and ability to cope with situations.
The good news is that most phobias such as fear of height can be overcome with some intervention. Professionals such as psychologists or hypnotherapists are often consulted by people with phobias. For severe phobias and extreme anxiety over fear of heights, professional help is a good idea. Some people are able to overcome their fears and anxiety of heights simply by engaging family members or friends in the process of working through them.
Whether you consult a professional or try to overcome a fear of heights alone, there are some common sense strategies that will help. Some treatment options require the services of professionals and others can be deployed by any individual.
First of all, you must learn to calm the physical symptoms that result from the fear. Deep breathing, meditation, and relaxing music can help alleviate some of the negative feelings. Take it slowly and learn to work through the symptoms in a non-threatening situation. If the thought of being on the 10th floor of an office building is upsetting, try moving to the 2nd floor and control the symptoms. Gradually work your way upward over time and see if this helps.
This gradual approach to overcoming the fear is called desensitization and it is helpful for some people. It can be useful and even more effective when accompanied by positive affirmations of encouragement. "I can do this", "I am okay", or "I am not afraid" are affirmations that will often alleviate some of the anxiety. It takes time with this approach but it is often effective.
Some professional recommend hypnotherapy to help people overcome their fears. This type of treatment is only available by qualified therapists follow prescribed guidelines. But hypnotherapy has been effective for many people.
Fight-or-flight is another type of therapy that may be used. It is a process that is supervised by a healthcare professional and that floods a person with the thing they most fear. For example, rather than desensitization, the person is immediately taken to the top floor of the office building and learns to deal with the symptoms of fear. Over time, they gradually learn that they are safe and do not have to fear the situation. This is a drastic treatment method and should only be deployed by a professional.
Phobias are Real
Phobias are very real fears to those who suffer from them. It's important that family and friends recognize that this is not a passing phase or a game. They need to help you learn to overcome your fears and be patient with you along the way. Having family and friend's support can make it much easier to deal with a phobia. Don't deny a fear of heights, but instead acknowledge the fear and ask for help from others.
Don't allow a fear of heights or other phobias to negatively change your life any more than necessary. Take steps to manage your fears and put them in perspective. Seek professional help and ask for support from family and friends. Acknowledge the fear and take steps to manage the symptoms when they occur.