The stairs are a structure that makes our day-to-day life easier and makes our lives much simpler. While for many of us, stairs can be very helpful, some individuals experience symptoms of anxiety and fear when they see one or when they imagine one. This is what is known as batophobia or fear of stairs . In this article we will deal with this topic and go into what are its causes, its symptoms and its treatment.

There are different types of phobias, and in fact they are one of the most common psychological disorders. While many people may suffer from a pathological fear when they have to get on a plane or when they are near a spider, it is not very common for people to develop a phobia of stairs.

What is Batmophobia

Stairway phobia is an anxiety disorder, in which the main symptoms are extreme anxiety, fear, and trying to avoid the feared stimulus. Despite the fact that using stairs can be a practical experience, the bathophobe suffers great discomfort .

Phobias are usually classified into three types: social phobia, agoraphobia, and specific phobias. The latter refers to the irrational fear that an individual suffers when faced with objects, animals, activities or specific situations , such as snakes, driving a car or flowers.

You can learn more about agoraphobia or social phobia in the articles:

  • Agoraphobia: the fear of losing control (causes, symptoms and treatment)
  • Social phobia: what is it and how to overcome it?

Causes of Stairway Phobia

Irrational fear of stairs may be associated with fear of heights or falls, but it is a disorder in itself. Although climbing stairs can be a good source of exercise, people with this mental disorder will avoid using the stairs at all costs , since in many buildings there is the possibility of going up in an elevator, in most cases it is not a problem for the person suffering from it. However, if the only way to get to a place is by the stairs, then it can be a complicated situation.

This phobia usually develops through classical conditioning , which is a type of associative learning. This occurs because the person, who has suffered a traumatic event (e.g. a fall), may associate it with the fact that the reason for this is the stairs. If you want to know exactly what classical conditioning is, you can read the article “Classical Conditioning and Its Most Important Experiments.

However, a person’s traumatic experiences are not the only way to develop this disorder. Other individuals have developed batmophobia by watching people fall down stairs in real life, but also by watching actors fall down stairs in movies and end up with serious injuries. This can lead to a phenomenon called vicarious conditioning, which is explained in the article “Vicarious Conditioning: How Does This Type of Learning Work?

Some experts say that human beings are predisposed to suffer from phobias, since the emotion of fear occurs easily because it is adaptive . Fear occurs by primitive and non-cognitive associations and, therefore, does not respond to logical arguments.

Symptoms of this phobic disorder

The symptoms of this disorder are the same as those of other phobias, but the difference is in the stimulus that manifests it . For example, in the case of coulrophobia, the phobic symptoms appear in the presence of clowns.

The symptoms of this phobia can be classified into cognitive, behavioral and physical . The former include catastrophic thoughts, anguish, fear or confusion. Avoidance of the feared stimulus refers to the behavioural symptoms. Finally, physical symptoms include: nausea, headache, shortness of breath, excessive sweating, etc.

Treatment of this disorder

People suffering from this disorder may be aware of their problem; however, it is not so easy to overcome it without the help of a psychologist . Luckily, psychotherapy has proven to be very effective for treatment, according to many scientific studies.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most widely used treatment currents, and includes several effective techniques, such as relaxation techniques and exposure techniques. In fact, the best known is systematic desensitization, which includes the two previous ones. This technique exposes the patient to the phobic stimulus in a gradual manner , but before this, the patient learns a series of strategies to confront this stimulus.

In addition to cognitive behavioral therapy, Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and acceptance and engagement therapy have also been shown to provide excellent results.

New technologies and phobias

In recent years, advances in new technologies have also been used to treat phobias. Virtual reality has proven to be very useful , and for this reason, many psychotherapists use it in their interventions.

But technology continues to advance, and with the advances of smartphones, apps have been appearing that help treat phobias. You can read about them in the article “8 apps to treat phobias and fears from your smartphone”.