There are different types of phobias as we explained in the article “Types of Phobias: Exploring Fear Disorders”. The human mind often surprises us, and one of those cases where this happens is when a person suffers from ambulophobia or fear of walking.
Although it is a rare phobia, the fear of walking can be very disabling. In this article, we explore its causes, symptoms and consequences so that you can better understand this phenomenon.
What is the phobia of walking
ambulophobia it is the irrational and persistent fear of walking or, in fact, it is the fear of falling, So the person avoids walking. Although it can be felt at any age, it seems to be more common as a person ages and ages.
An individual may have walked without problem all his life, but after a bad experience, an operation or a fall, he becomes insecure, and feels a real fear of walking, at least of doing it without a cane. or support that allows him to move.
Some of the people who suffer from this disorder they are afraid to walk on flat and uneven surfaces, Especially when they are away from home, where they feel even more vulnerable and insecure.
The fear of walking and falling it is a fear that many children can experience, but overcome quickly nothing more. While this is quite normal at an early age, it ceases to be so in adulthood and the ambulophobic person may feel anxious or fearful where they think there is a risk of falling, and this fear and discomfort go beyond natural fear, becoming completely out of proportion to the situation.
Causes of ambulophobia
The fear of walking is often the result of a traumatic experience from the past where the person fell or saw another person fall. For example, it can happen when a person is prone to dizziness and thinks that they may feel dizzy in any situation, fall down and hit their head.
The individual may experience great discomfort as a result of this fear and avoid walking or doing so without support. Walking is a highly functional act, And therefore, this reaction can be really disabling.
Like any phobia, ambulophobia is usually learned by a process called classical conditioning, A type of associative learning. Classical conditioning is learning in which the person learns a response that reflects a stimulus which has not produced it before, but which comes to produce it by association with another stimulus. If you want to better understand what classical conditioning is, you can read this article “Classic conditioning and its most important experiences”.
Classical conditioning was first studied by Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist famous for his experiments with dogs. However, the researcher who made this concept popular and who studied this phenomenon with humans for the first time was the American psychologist. John Watson, one of the pioneers of behavioralism.
- “John B. Watson: Life and Work of the Behavioral Psychologist”
- “Behaviorism: history, concepts and main authors”
Other causes of this phobia
The theory that phobias have an environmental origin and that they are learned by classical conditioning is accepted; however, they can also learn by vicarious conditioning, observational learning which is similar to modeling and imitation, but not the same.
Other authors also believe that we are biologically programmed to suffer from phobias.Because fear is an adaptive emotion that has allowed humans to evolve and survive. This explains why the primitive brain is involved in this type of learning, which involves primitive and non-cognitive associations. This fear does not answer the logical arguments.
Ambulophobia has symptoms similar to those of any phobic disorder, as the only thing that changes is the stimulus that causes these symptoms. Phobias usually cause symptoms that arise at the cognitive, behavioral and physical level.
In terms of cognitive symptoms, irrational beliefs, catastrophic thoughts, Disorientation, lack of concentration, anxiety or fear appear.
Behavioral symptoms are characterized by acceleration of speech, avoidance of the phobic stimulus and other coping strategies. Tremor, headache, dizziness, suffocation, and nausea are some of the physical symptoms that manifest when a person suffers from ambulophobia.
Phobias are quite common disorders and they belong to the group of anxiety disorders. Many studies have been done to try to determine which treatment is the most effective. Scientific research indicates that cognitive behavioral therapy works very well in helping patients overcome their irrational fears.
This form of therapy uses different techniques. In the case of phobias, the most commonly used are relaxation techniques and exposure techniques. However, one technique that combines the two is systematic desensitization, which involves gradually exposing the patient to the phobic stimulus after learning different coping strategies such as relaxation techniques.
In addition to cognitive behavioral therapy, other forms of psychotherapy are also used such as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and hypnotherapy.
In severe cases, they can administer anxiolytics or antidepressants, but always in combination with psychological therapy.