Gephyrophobia, With Help a Fear you Can Get Over
Have you ever rerouted your way to avoid driving over a bridge, even many miles?
Do you just swerve or brake suddenly to take an exit to avoid even seeing a bridge?
Does the gripping fear of crossing bridges or tunnels make you feel weak? Perhaps looking at a bridge from far away is enough to make you queasy. You might not know this but the fear of bridges, gephyrophobia, is a legitimate medical condition.
You don’t have to let gephyrophobia take over your life. You can very well overcome any fear if you confront it. Knowing about your fear and acknowledging its existence is a great start towards your healing.
You may have wondered:
● How do you overcome bridge anxiety?
● What causes fear of bridges?
● What is the fear of bridges called?
Take a deep breath. This article and the information in it are here to help you.
Understanding Gephyrophobia – The Fear of Bridges
The sheer terror you feel at the sight of a bridge even if it’s in a photo or a movie has your heart racing so fast it feels like it’s going to explode. There’s a name for what you’re experiencing and it’s called gephyrophobia.
The fear of bridges keeps people who suffer from gephyrophobia from crossing a bridge or even looking at it. Passing over a bridge can induce panic and a sense of doom. Although irrational, it is hard to overcome. It can plague your life to such an extent that driving over a bridge has become impossible, making you take longer routes that don’t feature bridges.
What Is the Source of Your Fear?
There may be reasons that keep you from driving over a bridge. Maybe you are afraid of somehow driving off a bridge, landing in water, being trapped in the car, and drowning. Perhaps you’re afraid of the bridge collapsing. You hear and read about accidents like these every day allowing you to justify and rationalize your fear.
The dread you feel can be paralyzing but it is unwelcome and undesired. Avoiding the bridge might help you for now but deep down you know that it is a temporary band-aid for the fear you can’t seem to overcome.
Gephyrophobia Is Complicated
The fear of driving over a bridge isn’t necessarily rooted in one phobia. It can also be a combination of two or more phobias taking over. For some people, the existing anxiety gets worse while driving over a bridge. For others, it can be a fear of heights or water for example that makes it difficult.
Gephyrophobia can be a cluster of anxiety-related conditions or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). This makes driving over a bridge quite a task. The phobias that make driving over a bridge impossible are usually vehophobia (fear of driving), aquaphobia (fear of water), acrophobia (fear of heights), and cleithrophobia (fear of being trapped).
The Causes of Gephyrophobia
For many people, it is routine to cross a bridge. For people with gephyrophobia, it is impossible.
What causes fear of bridges? The reason you find yourself gripping your steering wheel upon seeing a bridge can be due to negative emotional experiences that you’ve come to associate with them.
You may or may not be consciously aware of the reason for this phobia. Perhaps a story about a bridge collapsing stayed with you. Perhaps you doubt the structural integrity of a bridge. You may also have had an accident involving a weak bridge. Any of these incidents and more could have led to your fear.
Whatever the reason for your fear of crossing bridges, you have most likely suffered from its symptoms.
Symptoms of Gephyrophobia
The most obvious sign is that you will avoid crossing a bridge at all costs. You’d rather add an hour to your driving time than cross a bridge.
For some, the fear may be mild. Others can have full-blown panic attacks or feel terror and dread.
There are many physical and psychological gephyrophobia symptoms. How many of the following do you recall experiencing?
● Heart palpitations
● Shortness of breath
● Prickly sensations or tingling
● Aches and pains
● Dry and sticky mouth
● Migraines and headaches
● Trembling or shaking
● Numbness from head to toe
● Panic attacks
● Problems concentrating
● Inability to relax
● Feelings and thoughts of death
● Flashes of violent negative images or movie stills
Depending on the severity of your gephyrophobia, you might have found yourself inventing reasons to avoid crossing bridges and situations that involve bridges. You may have gone to extreme lengths to avoid the fear that you feel when confronted with bridges. These behaviors are your “avoidance” behaviors.
The fear of driving over a bridge is real and you may even feel like you’re having a heart attack when nearing a bridge. With the right coping strategies, you can get to the other side.
Gephyrophobia can be quite complex. Treating the underlying cause may be one of the best ways of managing it. Gephyrophobia treatment also involves proper therapy and gradual exposure to bridges to help you deal with the anxiety slowly.
Self-Help Guide To Treating Gephyrophobia
Learn Stress Management Techniques
These techniques will help you center your mind and find peace. It helps you control your fear and takes you through the situation instead of avoiding it.
1. Deep Breathing
It tricks your body into being calm and reduces overall stress levels. Try to regulate your breathing and count slowly from one to ten. This will help ease your anxiety.
Direct your mind into a peaceful state whenever you encounter stressful situations.
3. Exercise Regularly
Exercising releases feel-good hormones that help you deal with anxiety and regulates your mood.
Gradual Exposure Techniques
Gradual desensitization is one of the best techniques that will help you mitigate symptoms.
Imagine bridges and crossing them, begin to desensitize yourself to the feel and image of it. You can start by watching movies or pictures involving bridges. When you feel yourself losing control, breathe through it. Gradually, you will learn to cross the real bridge.
When you’re ready, start by driving across a small bridge or trust a friend to take you through one. When you eventually learn to manage your anxiety through these situations, you will be able to brace yourself for bigger bridges.
Is gephyrophobia disrupting your daily life? Does the mere thought of crossing a bridge make you panic? Visiting a doctor can help. If you see yourself going out of the way to avoid bridges, then it is important you take the necessary steps to deal with your fear.
Your phobia might already be trickling into your daily life. Prolonged anxiety can affect your mental and physical health. How do you overcome bridge anxiety? Therapy (and even medication if necessary) from trained and certified professionals can help a great deal.
Some professional treatments are:
● Talk therapy
● Psychiatric counseling
● Exposure therapy
● Anxiety-reducing medications
● Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
How To Cope with Gephyrophobia?
Gephyrophobia can strike you during the day. It can happen while you’re commuting to work or watching a movie that has a bridge.
If you’re asking how to overcome my fear of driving over bridges, acknowledge the phobia and make a firm decision to deal with it. Do not let it take over or disrupt your routine. Try and follow it every day. This will help you maintain a sense of order and balance in life.
You can note down positive thoughts by rationalizing the negative ones. Listing down positive thoughts that help you cope can help divert attention from the anxiety and situation at hand. You should also rest and ensure you have a good night’s sleep. Fatigue will do you no good and make it harder for you to manage your anxiety.
Gephyrophobia takes time to develop. Accept that dealing with it will also take time and effort on your part. Whether you choose to consult a professional or try some self-help therapy, try to be consistent in your effort to get over gephyrophobia.
While it can be debilitating, it does not have to be a lifelong predicament.