It is common to feel discomfort in high places. Many people are nervous or dizzy when they look down from an extreme height. However, individuals with acrophobia have an intense or irrational fear of heights that goes beyond these standard feelings. In most cases, the dread is strong enough to affect a person's daily life, and merely thinking about heights may trigger an intense reaction. Though research suggests that acrophobia is one of the most common phobias, much about the condition remains unknown.
Most people with acrophobia have an intense fear of heights that may be accompanied by panic attacks or severe anxiety. If this reaction occurs when the individual is high up, he or she may become too upset to get down safely. While some people may only react when physically at high altitudes, others may fear any degree of height, even if they are only looking up at a high point or required to climb stairs, pass a window, or drive on an overpass. The physical effects of acrophobia include sweating, chest pain, nausea, lightheadedness, dizziness, and trembling. The phobia may lead to excessive worrying about encountering heights in the future, which then causes the individual to avoid heights at all costs.
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