What is considered a fear of heights ?

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When people say they are afraid of heights I get really confused because isn’t almost everyone in the world afraid of heights ? What makes someone with a fear of heights
in the sense of a phobia different than a “regular” fear of heights ? I don’t really know
the difference.

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I used to be a structural steel ironworker. That means working at heights where it’s just you on the steel. I think anyone who can do that kind of job without fear is someone who is not afraid of heights

Someone who can’t do that kind of job is most likely afraid of heights.

it’s when it’s irrational I’d say, like I feel safe looking out the window of a skyscraper, some people I know do have a fear doing the same, however, I don’t think I’d feel the same if I were to be the window cleaner because of the risk

It’s different for everyone. Ive flown hundreds of thousands miles and stood on the top observation deck of the old World Trade Center bldg. No problem. But unprotected heights, like a tall ladder scare me to death.

My fear of heights is so bad that when I daydream, I often lapse into a height situation where I fall. Just that thought alone induces nausea, sweating, cramping in my feet from curling my toes, etc. It’s like I’m actually torturing myself but I don’t do it on purpose, I just have an extreme fear.

It isn’t pleasant but it could be worse as, daydreaming apart, I can control it insofar as I just wouldn’t allow myself to get into a situation with heights these days. Terra firma ftw.

Must be something in the psyche. Some nights I’ll wake up and remember videos/pics of people up high. And remember all the other media that freaks me out. But up in a plane I like the window seat.

To your point, some distress around genuinely unsafe situations involving heights is more common than not. The point of phobias is to be uncommon and out of proportion to the situation. Let’s look at the two big sets of diagnostic criteria for phobias. Here’s the ICD-10 (World Health Organization):

“*In this group of disorders, anxiety is evoked only, or predominantly, by certain well-defined situations or objects (external to the individual) which are not currently dangerous. As a result, these situations or objects are characteristically avoided or endured with dread. Phobic anxiety is indistinguishable subjectively, physiologically, and behaviourally from other types of anxiety and may vary in severity from mild unease to terror. The individual’s concern may focus on individual symptoms such as palpitations or feeling faint and is often associated with secondary fears of dying, losing control, or going mad. The anxiety is not relieved by the knowledge that other people do not regard the situation in question as dangerous or threatening. Mere contemplation of entry to the phobic situation usually generates anticipatory anxiety*.”

and the DSM-5 (American Psychiatric Association):

“*Marked fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation. (In children fear or anxiety may be expressed by crying, tantrums, freezing, or clinging.)*

*The phobic object or situation almost always provokes immediate fear or anxiety.The phobic object or situation is avoided or endured with intense fear or anxiety.*

*The fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual danger posed by the specific object or situation and to the socio-cultural context.*

*The fear, anxiety, or avoidance is persistent, typically lasting for 6 months or more.*

*The fear, anxiety, or avoidance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.*

*The disturbance is not better explained by symptoms of another mental disorder, including fear, anxiety, and avoidance of situations associated with panic-like symptoms or other incapacitating symptoms; objects or situations related to obsessions; reminders of traumatic events; separation from home or attachment figures; or social situations.*”

So, key points: **A phobic fear of heights would be consistent, intense, and disproportionate. Think about comparing a person to ten or twenty randomly chosen peers–would they be more afraid of heights than anyone else in the group? Would they be visibly distressed in various situations involving heights**?

I also have that question. Usually when I’m on a plane I love looking through the window. Not an ounce of discomfort. But sometimes I become self aware that under my feet there are 6.5 miles of void and I just lose my mind. Completely petrified. Am I acrophobic? Is it irrational? I try to analyze my reaction each time.

This was always my problem. Standing on top of not very tall building? Not possible. Edge of the grand canyon? No problem. Plain? No problem. Sometimes being on the balcony? Nope. So you tell me.