I have a fear of heights. It is quite a recent issue, the phobia having surfaced in my 30s. Not sure about the root cause but every time I look down from a tall building or from places of significant height, it freaks me out totally. I get a horrible feeling as if I'm being pulled down to the ground. I face an overwhelmingly strong urge to jump and during one incident while on a Sky Ride in Sentosa, I was incessantly talking during the whole time to take my mind off the fact that I was up so high. It was terrifying.
During these panic attacks, I get all hot and sweaty. Anxiety and fear grips me. My heart pounds in my ears so loud I swear my girls can hear them. I understand that my fear is unreasonable. In fact, I feel silly in front of my family but I just can't control my feelings.
Fear of heights or acrophobia is apparently quite common. It affects thousands of people around the globe. Whoopi Goldberg, Woody Allen and James Madden are some of the many famous celebrities who suffer from Acrophobia.
The word Phobia is of Greek origin and means flight, terror or strangulation. A phobia is an intense fear of something that, in fact, poses little or no actual danger. It causes strong emotional and physical reactions in many. Phobias usually begin in our childhood due to certain upsetting events. An interesting fact to note is that phobias tend to run in families.
There are many types of phobia some of which can sound rather amusing. Nomophobia is fear of losing your mobile phone while phobophobia refers to a phobia about phobias!
How do we get over our fears? Is it treatable?
Do understand that phobias are common and that they are highly treatable. If your phobia doesn't impact your life that much, it is probably nothing to be concerned about but if you feel that your fear affects your normal routine and it causes significant distress, consider having treatment.
The main treatments are :
1) Medications - these help to suppress the symptoms using chemicals. This may not be a good idea in the long run as the side effects of the medications may be worse off than the fear itself.
2) Hypnosis - this is another type of suppression in that you allow someone to control your mind instead of using chemicals.
3) Positive Thinking and Gradual Desensitization - this seems to be the best way as therapists recommend that people face their fears slowly over time. By gradually and repeatedly exposing yourself to what you fear in a safe and controlled way could be the most effective way. During this exposure process, you will learn to overcome your anxiety and fear until it inevitably passes.
Discuss with your doctor which method would work best for you. And remember this quote when in doubt about overcoming your phobia
'Do the thing you fear and continue to do so. This is the quickest and surest way of all victory over fear '
- Dale Carnegie