Gephrophobia (extreme fear of bridges): symptoms, causes and treatment

Gephrophobia is the irrational or excessive fear of bridges. It is a phobia that has been described and studied in relation to other types of phobia (not as a particular clinical picture). Faced with the fear of structures that are particularly everyday in large cities, gephyrophobia can represent a significant discomfort experience for those who present it.

Below, we’ll take a look at what gephyrophobia is, what are some of its possible manifestations and causes, as well as strategies that might counteract this fear of bridges.

    Gephyrophobia: fear of bridges

    In Greek, the word gefura (γέφῡρᾰ) means “bridge” and “phobos” (φόβος) means by. For this reason, the term “gephyrophobia” is used to refer to the fear of bridges. As with the phobias described from psychopathology, to be considered in this way, it must be a fear that is considered irrational, because causes clinically significant discomfort which cannot be justified by the cultural codes in which it is presented.

    In other words, gyrophobia is the irrational fear of bridges, which is irrational because it occurs in contexts where bridges are objects of daily use and do not in themselves have a quality that is likely to be affected. entail some kind of risk. Likewise, they are architectural structures that generally do not scare those who pass through them on a daily basis.

    main symptoms

    When faced with a fear that causes clinically significant discomfort, phobias can be a major obstacle to performing the most everyday and seemingly simple activities. In the case of gephrophobia, it may happen that the person avoids whatever routes involve crossing bridges, Especially when it comes to large bridges that must be crossed by car.

    Otherwise, that is, when exposed to a situation in which it is necessary to cross a bridge, the person may experience the typical manifestations of specific phobias. These manifestations include the characteristic physiological response spectrum of anxiety: dizziness, restlessness, hyperventilation, rapid heartbeat, and even panic attacks.

    Possible causes

    Gephrophobia is characterized by ideas or thoughts on different scenarios associated with falling from or bridges, The one that generates fear.

    These thoughts may be due to a previous experience of danger associated with a bridge; or they may be related to witnessing a high-risk incident related to it, in person or indirectly through the press, cinema or other media. But it is not necessarily, in fact, a fear which is apparently unrelated to any previous experience in the subject’s life.

    In general, the fear of bridges is explained by things such as the following:

    • Afraid that part of the bridge will take off.
    • Fear of a gust of wind crossing the bridge and moving the cars intensely.
    • Doubt about the structural integrity of the bridge.
    • Fear that the bridge will collapse easily.

    Relationship between gephyrophobia, agoraphobia and acrophobia

    According to Foderaro (2008), Dr. Michael R. Liebowitz, professor at the Psychiatric Clinic at Columbia University and founder of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York Institute of Psychiatry, explained that while the fear of flying s ‘is intensified and recognized as a trigger for anxiety, particularly in the post 9/11 United States; the fear of crossing bridges is much less known and common it continues to represent a stigma for those who suffer from it.

    Likewise, there are no exact figures on who experiences it, but the psychiatrist himself says that “it is not an isolated or distant phobia, but part of a large group. “. Rather, it is a type of phobia linked to the fear of large or very large spaces.

    In other words, gephyrophobia is closely related to acrophobia (fear of heights) and agoraphobia (fear of open spaces where help is lacking). Likewise, the other side of gephyrophobia is the fear some drivers experience when passing through tunnels, a problem closely related to claustrophobia (fear of tight spaces).

    In fact, gephyrophobia it is generally felt more when it comes to high bridges, Compared to those located a short distance from land or water.


    As with other phobias, clinical psychology has different tools to work on gephrophobia. There are different strategies which vary according to the theoretical approach. For example, these strategies can focus on encourage a change in thoughts that generate anxiety.

    On the other hand, they could favor an approach of the bridge which is progressive and which allows the person to live them differently. Intervention strategies may also focus on exploring the meanings associated with the risk posed by bridges and attempting to reinforce or change emotional patterns of managing that risk. But not only psychology can intervene in the treatment of experiences of gephrophobia.

      Driver assistance equipment

      Mohney (2013) tells us that the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan, United States (one of the largest suspension bridges in the world), has proven to be both a tourist attraction and an imposing urban structure, making easily scared to many drivers.

      Until 2013, between 1,200 and 1,400 calls were received each day by the Michigan Driver Assistance Program, which sends to an assistance team accompanying the drivers when crossing the bridge. These call and assistance teams generally intensify their activity after the announcement of accidents related to falling bridges. A similar program exists at the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York City, which is located over 150 feet from the Hudson River and often causes panic in many drivers.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Mohney, G. (2013). Motorists can not cope with fears, take an elevator to the bridge. ABC News. Accessed August 21, 2018.Available at
      • Stein, D., Hollander, E., Rothbaum, B. (2009). Handbook on Anxiety Disorders. American Psychiatric Publishing: Washington, DC
      • Foderaro, L. (2008). For Gephyrophobia, Bridge Llauri a Terror. New York City. Accessed August 21, 2018.Available at

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