Acrophobia is fear of heights. The person who is suffering from acrophobia may experience fear of being in high buildings, climbing a ladder or being engaged in any kind of activity which includes exposure to height. Some may confuse acrophobia with vertigo. This happens because people who are suffering from acrophobia commonly experience vertigo when facing height. The diagnosis of vertigo in these patients can be simply ruled out after thorough examination of the doctor and certain tests and imaging method such as CT scan and MRI.
Symptoms of Acrophobia
Still, the leading symptom of acrophobia is vertigo. Additionally, patients may have panic attack the moment they are exposed to heights. He/she may momentary search for something to hold on to as if they were going to fall. These patients all of a sudden lose their balance and may descend instantly. Crawling on all fours is also very common. All in all, they tend to lower their bodies to protect themselves from 'obvious' danger.
Both emotional and physical response of patients who are suffering from acrophobia may resemble response to other phobias. The body may start to shake, the perspiration increases and patients even develop rapid heart beat. Some of them may even start to cry or scream for help. They may as well stand paralyzed not moving at all. The process of thinking is disturbed so they might not be able to answer any question.
Problems Related to Acrophobia
The major problem in acrophobia is limitation of patient's life and regular activities. Most of them simply avoid being exposed to heights. They may even stop working if their office is situated in a building. During panic attack these people may perform sudden and unexpected movements which can endanger not only the patients but also people from their surrounding. So all the patients require professional treatment as soon as possible. This especially refers to people whose lives include regular exposure to heights.
Treatment for Acrophobia
In many phobias cognitive-behavioral therapy is applied. This also refers to acrophobia. Techniques that are taught include gradual exposure of patients to the situation which fears them most. Apart from that patients are taught how to stop panic attack and what is the best way of dealing with it. Maintaining emotional control is crucial.
The very exposure to heights is necessary and definitely the best solution. Today patients may be also exposed to virtual heights. Virtual reality may be equally effective as real situation.