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Understanding Acrophobia, or Fear of Heights

Understanding Acrophobia, or Fear of Heights

Acrophobia describes an intense fear of heights that can cause significant anxiety and panic. Some researchTrusted Source suggests acrophobia may be one of the most common phobias.

It’s not unusual to feel some discomfort in high places. For example, you might feel dizzy or nervous when looking down from the top floor of a skyscraper. But these feelings may not cause panic or prompt you to avoid heights altogether.

If you have acrophobia, even thinking about crossing a bridge or seeing a photograph of a mountain and surrounding valley may trigger fear and anxiety. This distress is generally strong enough to affect your daily life.

Read on to learn more about acrophobia, including how to overcome it.

What are the symptoms?

The main symptom of acrophobia is an intense fear of heights marked by panic and anxiety. For some people, extreme heights triggers this fear. Others may fear any kind of height, including small stepladders or stools.

This can lead to a range of physical and psychological symptoms.

Physical symptoms of acrophobia include:

  • increased sweating, chest pain or tightness, and increased heartbeat at the sight or thought of high places
  • feeling sick or lightheaded when you see or think about heights
  • shaking and trembling when faced with heights
  • feeling dizzy or like you’re falling or losing your balance when you look up at a high place or down from a height
  • going out of your way to avoid heights, even if it makes daily life more difficult

Psychological symptoms can include:

  • experiencing panic when seeing high places or thinking about having to go up to a high place
  • having extreme fear of being trapped somewhere high up
  • experiencing extreme anxiety and fear when you have to climb stairs, look out a window, or drive along an overpass
  • worrying excessively about encountering heights in the future

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