Facing your fears: Heights

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - This week on the FOX 19 Morning News we are facing our fears.  Extreme fear of heights—also known as acrophobia—affects somewhere between 2 and 5 percent of the general population.

Fox 19's Dan Wells took a look at this fear while on top of Cincinnati's tallest skyscraper; Great American Tower.

According to health experts, nearly everyone experiences some degree of anxiety when exposed to heights. If your fear of heights is so extreme that it interferes with your performance at school, work or your enjoyment of everyday activities then you likely have acrophobia.

"It tends to happen more in women than men and it seems to cut across the board…it's not likely you will just have one fear of one particular thing...75 percent of the people that have a specific fear have it in multiple areas. " says Dr Mike Nelson, Xavier University.

So how can people fight and face their fear?

Advice from a clinical psychologist is to breathe in to the count of 3: (one thousand one; one thousand two; one thousand three) each takes around a second to say to yourself, in your mind, and out to the count of 3. Repeat as necessary, until feeling better.

If you experience a panic attack, when at any height, try to look neither up, nor down, but focus on employing the breathing technique which you have learned. Expect to still feel some level of fear, or anxiety, but now that you know that you can control any panic attack, it should give you the confidence to know that you can still act, even if afraid.

"It's a common fear if you look at fears in general...it's a lifetime prevalence rate of 12 percent, in other words at some point in your life about 12 percent of individuals will say they have developed a specific fear about something " says Dr Mike Nelson, Xavier University.

Here is a quote I found that seems to be appropriate. Courage is not the absence of fear, but having the resolve; the determination to still act effectively.

One method again to address a fear of heights: Start off from a low height, perhaps a couple of feet above the ground, so you have the confidence that, even if you fall, you won't be hurt. Then move a little higher, the idea being to induce a panic attack that you can then practice your control techniques on. You may not even need to undergo the experience of a panic attack, depending on your psychological makeup, but some people do, and this is for them.

Next, you could go and try rock climbing, with a rope attached for safety. At a fairly low height, you could even try looking down, and up, as a means of inducing a panic attack, which may, or may not occur, but you will be prepared for it, if it does. Then go even higher, and try the above again.

If no panic attack, continue up.

Baby steps first right? If you can climb a wall to the top, either without an attack, or by controlling any which happen, you are ready to try abseiling. You could also go to a pool, and jump from a low height, then higher.