Date post: 2017-09-21 08:06
Extreme fear of heights, also known as acrophobia, is estimated to affect up to 5 percent of the general population.  While nearly everyone experiences some degree of anxiety at the thought of a great, perilous drop, the fear is debilitating for some. If your fear of heights is so extreme that it interferes with your performance at school or work or hampers your enjoyment of everyday activities, you might have acrophobia. Learn about acrophobia and effective methods to deal with your fear.
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Not all people experience acrophobia, though, which undermines the claim that fear of heights is genetically programmed into the human species. The severe degree to which some people suffer from acrophobia can be maladaptive, preventing them from living in buildings of more than one story and interfering with daily activities such as climbing stairs. It is likely then that acrophobia is a combination of environmental and genetic components. People with the phobia may also experience other phobias or types of anxiety.
Find a Therapist Advanced Search Therapy can be extremely effective for phobias, including acrophobia. Gradual desensitization, during which someone is exposed progressively to their phobia, is particularly useful, though it can take months or years in some cases to be effective. Because it can be difficult to continually expose a person to heights, many practitioners have used virtual reality to desensitize people with acrophobia, and this treatment is very promising.
Acrophobia, however, is so common that it may have a genetic component. Heights are a reasonable danger for people to fear, and perhaps fear of heights helps prevent people from taking unnecessary risks, serving to protect the species from extinction. Most people suffer from some degree of acrophobia and feel some discomfort, for example, when standing at a very high ledge.
A fear of heights is called acrophobia. Acrophobia can range from fear when on the top floor of a tall building, to fear of standing on a chair. People with acrophobia feel a sense of panic when they're at a certain height and often become unable to trust their sense of balance. Other symptoms can include shaking, dizziness and nausea. That's a pretty extreme reaction to standing on a chair!
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Scientists think that a fear of heights is a successful adaptation to our world, where falls from height are dangerous. Experiments have shown that infants and children are naturally cautious around heights. This suggests that people are born with a dislike of heights. However, most children and adults are a bit nervous around heights, but they don't have a phobia. Many scientists think that a phobia is a learned response to either a parent's fear of heights or a traumatic experience in childhood, like a fall.
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