The fear of falling or Basiphobia is known by different names like Basophobia, falling phobia, walking phobia, standing phobia etc. It is closely related to other phobias such as Ambulophobia or Stasibasiphobia or Stasiphobia which is the fear of walking or standing, Bathmophobia which is the fear of stairs or steep slopes and Barophobia which is the fear of loss of gravity.
In extreme cases of Basiphobia, the individual refuses to walk or move. S/he experiences an anxiety attack each time one is faced with idea of walking. One refuses to have physical therapy even though their body is actually ready for it. This fear can severely impact one’s daily functioning and they are dependent on their caregivers for daily tasks.
Causes of fear of falling phobia
- A person experiencing the extreme fear of falling has either been injured or immobilized due to an accident or disease. Arthritis, Bursitis, Tendinitis etc are a few conditions that can lead to severe pain while walking. Even though the body is healed, the mind of the phobic continues to lack confidence.
- Fear of bone demineralization, recent paralysis attack etc can also lead to Basophobia. The individual experiences negative thoughts of excruciating pain that the mind has learned to develop as a response and it becomes difficult to unlearn these thoughts.
- Apart from traumatic experiences, an individual might also develop Basiphobia due to heredity or genetic predispositions. Many times, an adrenal insufficiency can also lead to this phobia.
- Many elderly patients with severe Parkinson’s disease experience tremors or shaking that leads to falls and painful broken bones. They tend to develop Basiphobia due to these painful experiences.
- Advertisements for emergency alarm devices (made for the elderly) often depict old people who have fallen and are unable to get up. This can instill a fear in the minds of an older person living alone especially if s/he is prone to anxiety or is ‘high strung’. Movies and news reports about death of elderly person due to bad falls can also instill the fear of falling phobia.
- A disabled wheelchair bound person might have seen another disabled individual trying to stand up and subsequently fall which can also instill a deep fear in the observer’s mind.
- People of all age groups can develop this phobia. It is common in individuals working in construction industries or even in sports professionals where one might have faced a debilitating injury while on scaffoldings placed at a great height or during a game. This can lead to Traumatophobia which feeds the fear of falling phobia.
Symptoms of Basiphobia
A person with Basiphobia experiences deep and uncontrollable anxiety at the idea of walking or standing.
- S/he displays anxiety, irritability and anger towards family or loved ones who encourage them to walk.
- Anxiety symptoms include shaking, trembling crying, sweating, grasping for something to hold on to, panic attacks etc.
- Other physical symptoms are rapid heart rate, shallow breathing, chest pains and palpitations. The individual tries to use these excuses to avoid walking or standing.
- Many patients end up being bedridden due to their condition and as a result may be unable to use the bathroom or do other necessary tasks. They are completely dependent on caregivers.
- Many patients understand that their fear is irrational but they are completely powerless to overcome it.
Physiotherapy is the most effective solution to overcome the fear of standing or walking. Other mental therapies include talk therapy, counseling, and CBT or cognitive behavior therapy which can be used in combination with physical therapy.
Hypnotherapy can also help get to the bottom of the fear to help the individual relearn ‘responding’ to his/her fear.
Family and loved ones play an important role in encouraging and boosting the confidence and morale of the person experiencing such a fear.
Many drugs and medications can also be taken to overcome anxiety linked with this condition. However, these have several side effects and are only effective for short term purpose rather than being a long term solution.
I can walk fine in my house but have had some issues with my balance. Now I am afraid to walk outdoors. I’m afraid of falling. I panic. A few months ago, this started. I used to walk and hike. Now I’m afraid to walk without someone to hold onto. I have an issue with my neck causing balance problems sometimes. I will be having surgery.
Anthony Cross says
I, too, have a great fear of falling and can end up with a full-blown panic attack. I have an above-knee amputation (Transfemoral). I have been able to walk with two sticks for some time now, five years, but this latest development has only recently emerged. The inability to walk far and my circulation has deteriorated also. I have purchased a walker, hoping this can reassure me and enable me to walk further. So far, the progress is disappointing, but I hope this walker may help with practice. Will Hypnotherapy be of any assistance?
I had a bad fall two years ago. Broken ribs, broke all the fingers on my right hand, laceration on my forehead. Since then I have a fear of falling, so I use a walker or shopping carts to minimize the threat!
I truly do understand this article. It’s just that I don’t seem to understand why people like me with the fear of falling and heights can overcome this. I’m fine with walking, running, flying etc. It’s the fact of having the feeling of falling that scares me. What would I do to minimize that? Thank you for your time and I hope I can refer to another one of your articles in my question. -EL
I also have the same issues. I am okay with walking, flying and running but I am afraid of the feeling of falling.
I personally have a sort of big fear of falling. I’m only under the age of 18 and I hate the idea of standing on a cliff, not because I’m afraid of heights, it’s because I’m afraid I’m going to fall. Because of my fear I have missed a lot of fun things like roller skating or ice skating, even gymnastics. But to everyone that has it, I wish you the best to get over the fear, I hope I can.
Oh my goodness, I have the same fear! It’s not being up high that bothers me but the thought of falling and feeling weightlessness itself. I can’t seem to explain this to anyone well enough for them to understand it. I’m really glad to find out I am not the only person with this problem.
I love this site!
Hey everyone. I’m not exactly sure if I have basiphobia but want to find out if I do. I am not scared at all about falling whenever I walk. I am scared when I get close to the edges of any type of drop off though. That includes the sides of staircases, literal cliffs, buildings without rails on the sides, etc. I have symptoms of wanting to get away from the edge as fast as possible if the drop is at 10 ft high, dizziness, and blurry vision even though I wear glasses. I am fine when there is a rail on the side of the stair case, cliff, or building though. I am also fine whenever I am flown in an airplane. Therefore I know that I am not afraid of heights. Is there anybody that I should specifically go to to have this checked?
I think this will help me. But I don’t think that I will ever get over my fear of falling backwards.
Priyanka Singh says
I am not really afraid of walking as such, but whenever I am walking I have a fear of falling. It has been consistent for quite a long period of time now.
Pamela Elliston says
I personally just fear the fall part and if I fall I can’t physically get up for 10 mins or longer even if it is when I fall back when i am squatting to get something. The before and after fall does not paralyze me it is the in between part. I can’t have people pick me up without completely trusting them and its hard to get to that point, it doesn’t matter if they are emergency personal or not. It makes it hard sometimes to deal with especially if i just trip because it causes an anxiety attack and all my muscles lock up.
how do phobias form?
Phobias normally develop from traumatic experiences or just fears that escalated into phobias from certain events in a person’s life. Unlike disorders or disabilities, they don’t develop at birth, at least as far as I know.
When I walk I fear that everyone is watching or seeing me and they are thinking only about me. I get nervous and I feel fear, my body starts sweating, then I am unable to head up and walk. I am fed up of this and I am thinking to attempt just because of this.
Happens to me too! I’m trying to figure what it is called and trying to overcome it. I think it’s because i care too much about what people think…
According to this website, that would likely be known as scopophobia.
I have a fear of falling through an attic. In my job, I have to walk around in several attics everyday. One day, a while back, my foot went through a ceiling when I slipped off a rafter. Now every time I go up into an attic, I get very anxious and I just want to get down fast. This is a legitimate fear that I now have. I feel I am going to fall through every attic I go up in now.
My fear is a little different, my fear is of objects, or people falling through the floor. If I hear people above me walking around it sounds so loud and I fear they will come through the ceiling! Would that be classified under the same phobia?
vaishali muzumdar says
No this is a different phobia. I am not a psychiatrist myself but for my blog I have read lots of books so I am sure that this is different trouble. This will not help. It is better to ask someone experienced. Since it could be some other problem instead of a phobia, it is just better to ask while it is on basic stage why complicate the matter. Precaution is always better than cure.
I go for walks in the mornings but the fear comes, what if I feel giddy and fall..
Rishi Kumar says
Hi, my name is Rishi. My father got paralyzed 7 years back and is yet unable to walk, although he has enough strength in his hands and legs but is afraid of walking because of fear to fall. He is 67 years old and now situations are getting tough each day. Please advice what can be done.
vaishali muzumdar says
Take him to some nice counselor this is not some thing which we can do. Many times hospitals have counselling so you can ask that Doctor who did treatment of paralysis on your father. People feel scared to go for psychiatric treatment but it is not for just big problems they even cure small problems like your fathers. I feel that in a few sessions of counselling he will be fine. It might be happening due to trauma which he suffered from due to his paralysis. It happens to many people who suffer due to long term sickness. It can be easily handled by doctors.
Glenn Sellers says
I’m wondering if I experience basiphobia. When I’m in a situation where I could possibly fall a great distance, i.e. high enough to die as a result of the fall, I tend to experience an adrenaline rush, especially in my heart. I also experience this adrenaline rush when I watch a video of someone that could fall a great distance. I know I don’t have acrophobia because I can use a tree climber and climb twenty feet up a tree and not even blink. I also fly occasionally and have no fear then. I hope you can clarify this for me.
How do you overcome this kind of phobia on your own?
I’d say it’s a situational kind of phobia where it’s literally in between the two pobias mentioned but I’m not too sure..