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.