Decoding Acrophobia: The Fear of Heights!

3 minutes

First things first: what is acrophobia? Simply put, acrophobia is the fear of heights. This fear manifests itself in multiple forms. How many times have you found yourself on the top floor of a building with an irrational fear of looking out the window because some part of you just knows that the moment you touch that glass, it’s going to disappear and you are going to fall? Yes, it happens to most of us.


However, individuals with acrophobia are more likely to be petrified at the thought of entering a high-rise building or engaging in any activity that involves heights – sometimes even riding elevators! 

This phobia tends to express itself in the form of panic attacks, sometimes caused even by the mere thought of standing on the topmost floor of a building. So let’s look at some facts that help us understand this phobia better.

How common/rare is Acrophobia?

Acrophobia has a prevalence rate of occurring among 2-5% of the world population. Also, statistics show that women are twice as likely to have Acrophobia as men.

What are the features of Acrophobia?

The most common symptoms of Acrophobia include:

  • Feeling that you will fall or jump off the edge
  • Panic attacks
  • Feelings of dizziness, nausea, dry mouth, excessive sweating
  • Heart palpitations

I have vertigo. Does this mean I have Acrophobia too?

Vertigo is the feeling that you or your environment is moving or spinning and is often caused by an inner ear problem. It is different from dizziness as it only creates the illusion of movement.

Acrophobia, on the other hand, is an irrational and excessive fear of heights. So unless you have been diagnosed with both conditions, it is highly unlikely that you have acrophobia along with vertigo.

Most of us fear heights to some extent. Does that mean that we all have Acrophobia?

No, it most certainly does not mean that we all have Acrophobia. While it is true that most of us experience varying degrees of fear at various heights and altitudes, not all of us recognize that fear as being excessive or irrational.

As per evolutionary studies, a rational fear of heights that is not excessive in nature is instinctual in many mammals, including human beings. So while it is natural to feel nervous while standing on top of a building or at the edge of a cliff, it is not indicative of Acrophobia as individuals with the condition are more likely to experience genuine fear and panic at the very thought of being in such a situation and are likely to experience extreme anxiety.

Can Acrophobia be cured? If so, how?

Most phobias can be treated using a combination of behavioral methods and techniques including exposure therapy, systematic desensitization, flooding, visual imagery techniques, virtual reality techniques and cognitive behavioral techniques.

So now that we have an understanding of acrophobia, it’s time to face the truth – do you have acrophobia? It may seem pretty insignificant, but like any other irrational fear, it can hamper the quality of your living – since you may start avoiding elevators or airplanes.

But don’t worry, help is available. Talk to the experts at YourDOST about acrophobia or any other phobia you have, and avail help and support immediately.

Arshia Rajshekhar

Arshia Rajshekhar is a special friend at YourDOST. She is from a Psychology background. She loves unicorns, rainbow, is a big fan of Harry Potter. She is a foodie and loves cake, pudding and desserts in general!