The Excessive Fear of Stairs or Slopes
Do you always tremble at the thought of climbing the stairs? Are you more terrified of getting on the airport escalator than a plane that flies thousands of feet in the air?
Have you ever put off replacing a broken lightbulb because of a fear of climbing ladders?
Have you seen someone fall down the stairs and hurt themselves badly? Or did you experience losing your footing on a slippery step? Maybe nothing has happened at all, but you still have a severe fear of falling down the stairs.
Perhaps you’re planning to move, but your fear of steep hills is keeping you from buying that dream home. Maybe you want to put up holiday decorations but can’t because of a fear of ladders.
You feel your hands shaking uncontrollably, and you get an irresistible urge to run away. Your heart starts beating fast and your head begins to swim.
You even feel embarrassed sharing your fears with someone. You’re afraid that they will make fun of your anxiety over a few stair steps.
What can you do about this overwhelming fear?
What Is Bathmophobia?
Bathmophobia is the extreme fear of stairs, ladders, hills, or any steep surface. People with this phobia are deathly afraid of the possibility of falling while moving up or down a slope. Anytime you see or reach a height, you are afraid you will lose your balance and hurt yourself.
You are aware that this fear of hills and the like is irrational, yet you still feel the tremors. But you can’t simply ignore your fear. Having freedom of movement means you can’t completely avoid stairs, ladders, or slopes. Telling yourself to stop being afraid is not the solution. Finding out why you feel this way and taking steps to overcome steep stairs will help you lead a happier life.
Some people have a fear of climbing stairs, which is called Climacophobia. The difference is that they only feel afraid during the act of climbing. But with Bathmophobia, the anxiety comes at the mere idea of climbing.
Everything You Need to Know About Bathmophobia
It’s reasonable to be cautious about falling off a ladder or down a flight of stairs. No one wants a sprain or a broken bone. But a phobia is way more serious. It takes over you, and you lose control over how you react.
The National Institute of Mental Health reports that around 12.5% of Americans have experienced a phobia at some point in their life. It has to do with genes and brain chemistry. You are likely to develop that phobia if a close family member has dealt with a phobia.
Symptoms of Bathmophobia
You may have experienced this deep fear a few times. Or, it could be so severe that you make plans to avoid going anywhere near the stairs or escalators. Each individual has different symptoms when suffering from this phobia, making it challenging to diagnose.
The symptoms are either physical or psychological.
● Panic attacks
● Prickly sensations like being poked with pins and needles
● Heart beating fast
● Aches in the body
● Dryness and stickiness in the mouth
● Sweating a lot
● Running out of breath
● Tired but not being able to fall asleep
● Constantly living in fear
● Going out of the way to avoid stairs and steep surfaces
● Fearing that someone you know will get hurt
● Inability to relax
● Inability to concentrate
● A short temper
● Feeling out of control
Those who have bathmophobia could experience most of these symptoms, which could get worse the closer you are led to the trigger.
How Do You Deal With Bathmophobia?
Imagine you need to evacuate from a burning apartment. The only way out is down a rickety fire escape. Can you save yourself?
Consider a less dramatic but more realistic example. You just got an amazing job offer, but your new office is on the second floor of a building with no elevators. Will your fear of escalators stop you from pursuing this opportunity?
Imagining yourself in such situations helps you realize what is more important to you. Before seeking professional help, see if you can help yourself out first.
Face Your Fear
Every phobia is dealt with one step at a time. In this case, quite literally. You can start by going up a staircase with just a few steps. Then, slowly, shift to a staircase that goes up one floor. Use the handrail on the side for support. Or, if you have a friend, take their help. If you can trust your friend, share your fears with them, ask them to walk with you.
Hold the Handrail
Most stairways have a guard or handrail that you can hold on to for support. Always keep a firm grip as you ascend or descend. If there isn’t any, keep your balance by putting your hand against the wall. Make sure that the steps are clear of any objects to avoid tripping over them. Be extra careful if the stairs seem to have missing or loose steps, as this may increase your nervousness.
Write It Down
Write down how you feel after every attempt. Each experience will get you closer to removing your phobia. If you still feel anxious, try talking to someone you trust. Ask your family physician if they could suggest a therapist who has experience in treating phobias.
Getting Professional Help
A therapist who specializes in phobias can better understand and help you, step by step, so you can finally take those steps. Phobias like Bathmophobia are more serious and require help before it completely controls your life.
One of the therapies used in bathmophobia treatment is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which teaches you to replace irrational thoughts and negative emotions with more logical and pleasant ones. You are taught to calm down every time you feel anxiety. This type of therapy uses the relationship between how you think and how you feel and your behavior in response to it.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy uses systematic desensitization – which means that you are made to gradually face your fears so you get used to the idea of them, and then used to climbing up and down the stairs, walking uphill, and taking the escalator.
Hypnotherapy is also used to treat or manage bathmophobia. This method helps you find and use your inner strength to fight the issues that gave rise to your phobia. Hypnotherapy helps you to help yourself.
Hypnoanalysis is another approach that many psychodynamic therapists swear by to remove the root causes of most psychological problems.
How to Avoid Bathmophobia
It may take weeks, months, even years to completely rid you of your phobia. Meanwhile, just depending on the treatment would not be as effective. You need to help yourself too. Learning to meditate in stressful situations reduces the impact of anxiety. Even just practicing deep breathing to help chase away the jitters or dizziness.
Phobias stop you from doing many things that you’d later regret in life. But once you have decided to conquer your bathmophobia, there’s no stopping you from reaching the top, literally. Just take it one step at a time.