Batophobia may seem harmless, but it has a profound effect on health and quality of life. To be able to overcome fear and experience life to the fullest, patients need medical examination and treatment.
What is Batophobia?
Batophobia is an extreme and excessive fear of depth. Situations that can trigger fear include the depths of pools, the ocean, the depths of stairs, and the feeling of depth when viewed from the upper floors of a building. This syndrome can be confused with agoraphobia due to its similarity. In some cases, patients can have both seaphobia and fear of the depths at the same time.
The term Batophobia is derived from the Greek words “bathios” meaning depth and “phobos” meaning fear or obsession. Although it has been mentioned for a long time, this syndrome has not been recognized as an official psychological disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). However, doctors will still prescribe treatment if the condition causes profound effects on health and life.
Like other phobic anxiety disorders, people with agoraphobia may experience panic attacks and extreme fear when faced with depth-related situations such as standing in front of a swimming pool. , sea, lake, valley, etc. Most people with this disease realize their fear is irrational but can’t control and control it.
Causes of fear of the depths
The fear of depth has a similar mechanism to other phobias such as clown syndrome, fear of heights, fear of driving, etc. Like these diseases, the exact cause The cause of agoraphobia is still unknown. However, experts still support the hypothesis that excessive and persistent fear of depth is related to negative past events.
Factors that increase the risk of agoraphobia:
- Negative past experiences: Excessive and unusual fear of depth can develop after experiencing events such as witnessing a loved one’s accident in the water, slipping into an abyss, or yourself. I had almost died in similar situations. These events trigger a fear response when seeing the depths to help the body sense potential danger.
- Genetics: During evolution, humans will develop a fear of some potentially dangerous objects/situations. Situations related to deep depths such as the sea, deep holes, valleys, etc. evoke feelings of fear because people do not really understand what that depth is. In the long run, genes mutate to help people sense danger in these situations. Therefore, agoraphobia may be genetically related.
- Negative information in the radio: Negative information from movies, newspapers, etc. also inadvertently increases irrational fear of depth. When receiving this information, some people tend to be overly anxious and fearful. In the long run, the body will display an extreme panic reaction when it sees situations that involve depth.
- Prolonged stress: Prolonged stress is one of the risk factors for developing phobias – including Batophobia. Stress makes the brain more sensitive and sometimes forms an overly anxious reaction to situations / objects that are not really dangerous.
- Due to the influence of some health problems: Experts have found that the fear of depths (Batophobia) is closely linked with a number of health problems such as menopause, diabetes, premenstrual syndrome. , thyroid-related diseases, etc. In addition, psychological and psychiatric problems such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, fear of heights, depression and generalized anxiety disorder are also unintentionally caused. fear of depth.
Signs of fear of depth
Depth phobia is not simply a feeling of insecurity and fear when standing in front of a wide and deep space. This syndrome causes extreme, persistent fear, and this fear dominates the person’s emotions and behavior.
Signs of fear of depth:
There is always a feeling of fear, insecurity and anxiety when thinking about situations involving depth such as standing in front of the sea, rivers and lakes, standing on high mountains or tall buildings
Strongly increased fear accompanies physical symptoms if faced with situations involving depth
Have avoidant behaviors such as not swimming, never swimming, not standing near the balcony of a building, and not daring to experience games in the sea or at high altitudes.
When faced with fear-inducing situations such as seeing the depths of stairs, the sea, etc., the patient will become extremely frightened and may faint. In this situation, the patient will experience the following symptoms:
- Heart beat fast
- Chest pain
- Hot face
- Nausea, vomiting
- Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
- Trembling uncontrollably
- Want to get out of the situation as quickly as possible
- Sometimes there are symptoms of dissociation, detachment from reality
- During panic attacks, patients often have irrational fears such as fear of going crazy, fear of death, and fear of losing control
- Some people when falling into the sea are afraid of hitting a dead body or something scary buried in the ocean.
The severity of symptoms varies from patient to patient. However, all patients will have in common a fear of extremes, excessive in depth, and this fear is large enough to dominate emotions as well as behavior. Behaviors that avoid situations involving depth cause a decline in quality of life and patients face numerous obstacles and difficulties.
What are the effects of fear of depth?
In fact, there are many unrecognized phobias. However, because of the profound effects on quality of life, patients should see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Although there are no specific diagnostic criteria, the doctor can use the diagnostic criteria for anxiety disorder to make a general diagnosis.
Untreated Batophobia will cause a lot of difficulties in life. Because of the fear of depth, patients often cannot climb stairs but choose to take the elevator. In addition, fear also dominates, making patients not dare to approach the balconies of high-rise buildings.
In daily life, the patient can avoid these situations, but when a fire or situation arises, the patient will face a lot of difficulties. Even some people are so scared that they do not dare to stay in high-rise buildings and refuse to work in towering buildings.
In addition, the fear of depth also makes it difficult for patients to experience life and it is difficult to maintain relationships. People with this condition often refuse to travel for fear of seeing the sea or the valley. In addition, choosing a place to stay when traveling also makes patients insecure and worried. To avoid panic, patients often choose to avoid all relevant situations.
Besides the effects on quality of life, patients will also face health problems. Because of the inability to control their own fears, the sufferer is always in a state of helplessness, stress, and suffering.
To relieve emotions, many people choose to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and use stimulants. If left untreated, negative emotions will accumulate and accumulate day by day and are more likely to develop depression, generalized anxiety disorder, etc.
Diagnosis of fear of the depths
Phobias of the depths will be generally diagnosed as a phobia of anxiety disorder. This syndrome is diagnosed based on clinical presentation. In some cases, your doctor may recommend laboratory tests and imaging tests to rule out other possibilities.
The fear of depth is usually diagnosed through the following criteria:
- Extreme, excessive and persistent (at least 6 months) fear of depth
- There are avoidance behaviors such as not swimming, not daring to climb mountains, avoiding stairs and avoiding standing on the balcony of high-rise buildings, etc.
- Excessive fear, panic, even fainting when faced with situations involving depth
- The fear must be large enough and last long enough to cause negative effects on quality of life
- The symptoms are not due to other psychological or psychiatric disorders
Methods to treat the fear of depth
Although not recognized as an official psychological disorder, agoraphobia is indicated for treatment. Like other phobias, this syndrome is treated with psychotherapy. In case of need, the doctor can prescribe medication and apply some additional supportive measures.
Treatments for acrophobia include:
Psychotherapy is the mainstay of treatment for phobias. This method is highly appreciated for its effectiveness and safety because it is carried out through a form of communication.
Psychotherapy will be performed by a specialist with extensive training in this area. First, the specialist will discuss to understand the psychology of the patient and consider the appropriate intervention direction.
Psychotherapies considered for patients with agoraphobia include:
- Exposure therapy (exposure): Exposure therapy is the optimal solution in the treatment of Batophobia. This method helps the brain adapt to fear, thereby reducing fear and panic when faced with situations involving depth. Initially, the specialist will expose the patient to the fear through images, video clips, imagination and finally face-to-face contact. When the patient reacts with fear and panic, the specialist will provide guidance on how to control the fear and stay calm. At the end of therapy, the patient will have a completely normal response to situations such as looking down from above, swimming, climbing, etc.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is the “golden key” in the treatment of many psychological and psychiatric problems. For fear of depth, this method helps to change negative thoughts such as fear of touching dead bodies or mystical creatures in the sea, fear of accidents when viewed from above, etc. Through adjustment negative thoughts, experts will help patients change emotions and behaviors in a more positive way.
- Hypnotherapy: Hypnotherapy may be considered in the treatment of agoraphobia. This therapy helps the professional identify the traumatizing event in the past. In addition, hypnosis puts the patient in a suggestible state. Therefore, the specialist can help the patient to actively receive the correct information about the depth (for example, the deep sea is not really dangerous and the possibility of encountering harmful organisms is very low, etc.).
Psychotherapy is very effective in treating phobias. However, the level of response will be different in each case. According to statistics, about 90% have marked improvement when this method is intervention.
2. Drug use
Medication is considered when the patient has signs of depression and anxiety disorder. In addition, some patients who become panicky and agitated during therapy will also be considered for medication to lift their spirits.
Like other phobic anxiety disorders, patients are often prescribed antidepressants, tranquilizers, and beta-blockers. If agoraphobia occurs on its own, medication is not the mainstay of treatment, but is used only for the short term as an adjunct.
3. Self-care measures
The fear of depth will persist and cause psychological stress, anxiety, insecurity, etc. These negative emotions can lead to a variety of physical problems such as headaches, insomnia, confusion. vestibular disorders and physical weakness.
Self-care measures can reduce some of the negative effects of agoraphobia. Experts found that those who combined medical treatment and proper care often had a better response than patients who depended entirely on drugs and psychotherapy.
Self-care measures for patients with agoraphobia:
- Because of the fear and feelings of anxiety and long-term stress, patients need to be equipped with relaxation techniques. Meditation, massage, aromatherapy, deep breathing techniques, etc. are effective ways to reduce stress that can be done every day to relieve emotions and partially improve the effects of the disease.
- Consider joining groups to share treatment experiences. In addition, this is also an opportunity for patients to make friends and expand relationships. Since patients all have an irrational fear of depth, it is easy to get along and be able to experience life together in a different way.
- Share with family, colleagues and friends your health status. Taking the initiative to share will help people understand why patients often avoid traveling with people. From there, it is possible to maintain long-term relationships and avoid unnecessary conflicts.
- Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle by getting enough sleep, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and eating a balanced diet. In addition, daily exercise is recommended to clear the mind and improve the physical symptoms associated with agoraphobia.
Acrophobia affects many lives and can cause a variety of physical and mental health problems. However, these consequences can be prevented with early therapeutic intervention. Overcoming your fears is not easy. Therefore, in addition to the patient’s efforts, he needs the encouragement and support of family and friends.