A phobia is a persistent fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation, which is out of proportion, sometimes even irrational to the actual danger posed by it. The sufferer goes to a great length in avoiding the phobic object or situation to avoid the distress caused by facing it. Phobias are the most common type of anxiety disorders.

Climacophobia is an unusual phobia. The term means ‘fear of climbing’. It is related to ‘Acrophobia’ i.e. ‘fear of heights  as well as ‘Bathmophobia’ i.e. ‘fear of stairs or slopes’. The difference in these phobias lies in the focus of fear. While in acrophobia the focus of fear is heights, in bathmophobia the focus is stairs or slopes (even looking at them can cause distress) and in climacophobia the focus lies on ‘the act of climbing’.

Causes :

Climacophobia can be caused by a number of factors, the most common of which is a negative past experience. If the sufferer has experienced a fall from stairs or  a panic attack while climbing he or she is more susceptible to developing climacophobia. In some cases even witnessing an accident on stairs can be the reason for this phobia.


As in any other phobia the symptoms vary from person to person depending on the intensity of fear. Some common symptoms are:

  1. Extreme anxiety or dread.
  2. Shortness of breath.
  3. Irregular heartbeat.
  4. Excessive sweating.
  5. Nausea
  6. Dry mouth, etc.

Differential diagnosis:

While diagnosing this phobia it is important to rule out any past injuries that could cause problem of balance, injuries of ligaments or tendons involved in climbing.

Another important condition to rule out is ‘vertigo’ and ‘fear of vertigo’ or ‘Illyngophobia’ as climacophobic can have similar symptoms like dizziness when looking down.


Treatment includes cognitive behavior therapy, counseling, hypnotherapy, neuro-linguistic programming and relaxation techniques.

If untreated this phobia can worsen overtime and disrupt the life of the sufferer by limiting his activities.

          Vidhi Pipara Adolescent Psychologist – Guidance on personal or psychological problems in Ahmedabad,Gujarat and India.

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