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Vital Tips on How to Overcome a Fear of Heights

written by: suzysnowflake • edited by: jen2008 • updated: 8/22/2010

A fear of heights can be a paralyzing fear for many people. They may go out of their way to avoid places that feeds their fear. There are many methods available to help overcome their fears and to live a more normal life.

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    Fear of heights is scientifically known as acrophobia. It is more than just a natural fear of heights; it is an extreme, paralyzing fear. Symptoms of acrophobia can include: increased heart rate, feeling like you are going to fall, sweating, nausea, dizziness, and panic. Working with a therapist that specializes in acrophobia is best. They can use one or more of these effective ways on how to overcome fear of heights.

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    Relaxation and Coping Techniques

    The first step to overcoming the fear of heights is to learn how to control the situation and overcome the panic. Learning to address the fear straight on with relaxation and coping techniques is essential. These techniques are all used in some way or other with most other therapies. Some of the best relaxation and coping techniques are:

    • Deep breathing
    • Progressive muscle relaxation
    • Yoga
    • Meditation
    • Exercise
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    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

    Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches the person to face the negative thoughts in their mind and to look at them rationally. The person first learns to identify the negative thoughts of their fear and to challenge these thoughts. They then learn to take these negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. By being able to face their fear of heights head on and rationally process that they are not in any danger, it helps them to overcome the fear.

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    Desensitization Therapy

    In desensitization therapy, the patient is gradually exposed to heights in small steps. This is also known as exposure therapy. They may first view pictures that look down from a high place. After being able to deal with photos, they then move onto progressively higher heights. They may start off standing on a stool or small ladder. They can gradually work their way to being able to go up a few floors in a building and look out. They then progress to being able to look over a small ledge or the top of a building. Eventually they can face their fears at a higher height until they overcome the fear.

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    Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy

    Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) puts the patient in a virtual environment where they feel the sensation of the heights they fear. According to patient’s who have gone through this kind of therapy, it provides them with even more fearful feelings than they have experienced in real situations. This helps them face their fears in a controlled environment.

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    Hypnotherapy

    Hypnotherapy can reprogram the person’s self conscience to help minimize the fear. It centers on creating a completely relaxed atmosphere for the patient. When the subconscious mind is in a stress free state, it can rid itself of the fear. This therapy takes several weeks working with someone trained in hypnosis.

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    With these different techniques on how to overcome fear of heights, most people should be able to find a way that will work for them so they can lead a more normal life.