A lot of people who suffer from a fear of heights are actually born with it, rather than gaining the fear due to a traumatic event involving heights. Research involving babies, toddlers and children shows that most of those who have a fear of heights have done so since the beginning of their lives. In fact, most people are born with a fear of heights to some extent, apart from a few select groups of people such as some Native American tribes.
Acrophobia, or altophobia as it is also known is when this (often innate) fear of heights reaches an unnatural level and impacts on our daily lives in a variety of different ways. Altophobia can cause sufferers to freeze, panic and not take appropriate action when confronted with heights. This can be extremely dangerous as we often rely on our inbuilt reactions to keep us balanced and safe when we are at heights. This fear usually means that those who feel it won’t travel on airplanes, won’t go above a certain number of floors on a building, they won’t cross bridges, climb ladders or go near mountains where they may experience this fear. Other symptoms of altophobia are extreme anxiety, rapid breathing irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea, dry mouth and shaking.
Those who suffer from this fear can be prescribed medicine to deal with this problem, however medications can often have side effects and withdrawal symptoms which are unpleasant, and they don’t cure the phobia, and just suppress the symptoms instead. A way that phobia sufferers can avoid these side effects is by engaging in therapy such as counselling, Neuro-Linguistic programming or hypnotherapy.
Hypnotherapy works by allowing a hypnotherapist to access your brain’s subconscious and delving deep to discover the root of your problem. Although we are mostly all born with a basic fear of heights which keeps us safe from going to close to the edge, or falling off a tall structure, altophobia is an extreme version which is usually caused by a traumatic event or experience. Once the root or cause of this problem is found, the hypnotherapist will work with your brain to change how you react to the fear and feelings associated with heights.
For some, altophobia can be completely cured in only a few short sessions of hypnotherapy, whilst for others whose fear is more extreme, they will need a more prolonged series of sessions or even some top-up sessions should the fear start to creep back in. Your hypnotherapist can also teach you some self-hypnosis techniques which you can use at home whenever you feel like you need some more help.