Understanding Catapedaphobia, or the Fear of Jumping
“Those who don’t jump will never fly.” – Leena Ahmad Almashat
Jumping is a reflex that’s part of daily life. People jump when they’re excited or if they’re surprised. Kids jump for fun and out of sheer joy. It’s a movement that we all come by naturally.
Catapedaphobia, or the fear of jumping, impacts your body’s natural impulse to jump. It can inhibit your full range of movement and force you to restrain yourself unnecessarily from normal reactions. Have you ever found yourself frozen in place with sweat beading on your forehead because you feel a need to jump? Or are you overcome with fear when you see someone jump off the ground? If this sounds like you, then you may have catapedaphobia.
An Overview of Catapedaphobia
You may not understand the fear that overwhelms you when the prospect of you or others jumping enters your mind. It’s a perfectly safe movement and you know that you can do it. You may even remember jumping and how you loved it when you were younger, but now, it triggers fear or panic.
If you’re in this situation, you may have catapedaphobia, the fear of leaping or jumping. This is an irrational fear preventing you from fully enjoying life. If the condition is severe, you can’t even watch someone jumping because your anxiety goes through the roof.
The word catapedaphobia is a Greek word that can be broken into kata which means “down,” peda meaning “jump,” and phobia meaning “fear.” This is one of the rarest phobias because jumping is something that anyone can do.
Living with Catapedaphobia
When you have extreme anxiety about jumping, your initial attitude is to avoid jumping. Depending on the severity of your phobia, this fear can also cause mental anguish.
Your fear of leaping may negatively impact your social life and lifestyle. You may find comfort in isolating yourself and making excuses not to join activities because you’re afraid of a panic attack. Since jumping is a spontaneous reaction, you may become too self-conscious and feel anxious all the time.
It is also difficult to explain to others your situation and what you’re feeling. Most of the time, you can’t fully comprehend your own fear. Afraid of social stigma, ridicule, and judgment, you tend to keep it inside and try to endure it alone.
Possible Causes of Catapedaphobia
The reason for developing a fear of heights and jumping is unknown, but there are possible factors that can contribute to your fear. The most likely causes are:
#1. Childhood Trauma
You may have experienced an accident while you were jumping. Since then, you’ve associated pain with the movement. It’s also possible that you were not the one who experienced it, but instead were a witness to an incident where jumping became traumatic for you.
Childhood experiences vary from breaking a leg, being scolded or punished for something you did, or seeing a friend get hospitalized. The common denominator of these incidents was jumping.
#2. Family History
The behavior, reactions, and beliefs of the people around you unconsciously impact you. If you grew up with those who felt anxious about jumping or had bad experiences with it, you may adopt the same perspective. If you were constantly warned about jumping without fully understanding the reasons why, then you might have unconsciously started fearing the movement.
Additionally, having a family history associated with mental instability and depression, as well as family members who have acrophobia or the fear of heights, can make you more susceptible to developing a jumping phobia.
Coping with Catapedaphobia
Getting over your fear of jumping is easier said than done. There is no direct treatment for this phobia. But there is something you can do about it, and that is to jump away your fear. Yes, it’s time you break away and begin the journey of learning to enjoy the act of jumping. It’s a huge leap of faith, but it’s 100 percent worth it.
Having a strong support system can make all the difference. Talk to those you trust and tell them about the goal of overcoming your fear. A solid support network will be there for you, motivate you, and serve as your reminder to keep going even if things become difficult.
It would help if you got re-acquainted with jumping again—this time with an open mind. Perform an honest self-assessment to determine your triggers and the reasons stopping you from jumping.
Are you fearful that you’ll get hurt? Did you see someone else get hurt? Write down your thoughts so you can understand your thought processes and how you react to them.
It will also help if you learn how to manage panic attacks with breathing exercises. Meditating and learning how to channel your negative thoughts and feelings can help you control your fear.
Getting Professional Help
It can be comforting to talk to someone who won’t judge you and has experience dealing with similar phobias. For example, knowing that you are not the only person dealing with the fear of jumping can be comforting.
Scheduling an appointment with a mental health professional is your first step. With the guidance of your therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist, you can better understand what’s happening to you. The next step is to develop a treatment plan, which usually includes one or several therapies.
For fear of jumping, your doctor may likely start you off with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to uncover why you feel, think, and react to jumping with fear. The goal is for you to eventually adopt a more practical approach to jumping.
Another therapy that can be included in your treatment is exposure therapy. This entails being gradually exposed to jumping by watching videos, watching a person jump in your presence, and finally, taking small hops and leaps.
You may also receive medication intended to reduce severe symptoms while you work on overcoming the phobia.
Don’t let catapedaphobia control your life. Regain control and learn to manage your fear. As debilitating as your phobia is, you can take small steps. Move towards a future where you’re free from crippling catapedaphobia and all the things it prevents you from enjoying. Seek help, talk to people you trust, and take small jumps even if it scares you. With time and patience, you can one day jump for joy again.