Ambulophobia (fear Of Walking): Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

This irrational terror is based on the fear of falling, so it remains in a sitting position.

There are different types of phobias as we explain in the article ” Types of phobias: exploring fear disorders.” The human mind often surprises us, and one of those cases in which this occurs 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 delve into its causes, symptoms and consequences so that you can understand this phenomenon more fully.

What is walking phobia

Ambulophobia is the irrational and persistent fear of walking or, in reality, it is the fear of falling, so the person avoids walking. Although it can be experienced at any age, it seems to be more common as a person gets older and older.

An individual may have walked without problems throughout his life, but as a result of a bad experience, an operation or a fall, he becomes insecure, and feels a real fear of walking, at least to do so without a cane or support that allows him travel.

Some of the individuals who experience this disorder are afraid of walking on both 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 is a fear that many children may experience, but they quickly overcome it without further ado. Although it is totally normal at an early age, it stops being so in adulthood, and the person with ambulophobia may feel anxious or fearful where they think there is a danger of falling, and this fear and discomfort goes beyond natural fear, becoming completely disproportionate with the situation.

Causes of Ambulophobia

The fear of walking is often the result of a traumatic experience from the past in which the person fell or saw another person fall. For example, it can occur when a person is prone to dizziness and thinks that they can get dizzy in any situation, fall and hit their head. 

The individual may suffer great discomfort as a result of this fear and avoid walking or walking without support. Walking is a highly functional act, and therefore this reaction can be truly disabling.

Like any phobia, ambulophobia is usually learned through a process called classical conditioning, a type of associative learning. Classical conditioning is learning in which the person learns a reflex response to a stimulus that previously did not produce it, but which does occur through association with another stimulus. If you want to better understand what classical conditioning is, you can read this article ” Classical conditioning and its most important experiments.”

Classical conditioning was first investigated by  Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist famous for his experiments on dogs. Now, 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 precursors of behaviorism.

Related Posts:

  • ” 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 be learned by vicarious conditioning, observational learning that is similar to modeling and imitation, but not the same.

Other authors also think that we are biologically programmed to suffer from phobias, since fear is an adaptive emotion that has served human beings to evolve and survive. This explains why the primitive brain intervenes in this type of learning, which occurs through primitive and non-cognitive associations. This fear does not respond to logical arguments.

Symptoms

Ambulophobia has symptoms similar to any phobic disorder, since the only thing that changes is the stimulus that elicits these symptoms. Phobias usually cause symptoms that occur on a cognitive, behavioral and physical level.

Regarding cognitive symptoms, irrational beliefs, catastrophic thoughts, disorientation, lack of concentration, anguish or fear appear. 

Behavioral symptoms are characterized by accelerated speech, avoidance of phobic stimuli, and other coping strategies. Tremors, headaches, dizziness, hot flashes, and nausea are some of the physical symptoms that occur when a person suffers from ambulophobia.

Treatments

Phobias are fairly common disorders and belong to the group of anxiety disorders. There are many studies that have been carried out to try to find out which is the most effective treatment. Scientific research claims that cognitive behavioral therapy works very well to help patients overcome their irrational fears.

This form of therapy uses different techniques. In the case of phobias, the most used are relaxation techniques and exposure techniques. However, a technique that combines both is  systematic desensitization, which consists of gradually exposing the patient to the phobic stimulus after having learned 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, anxiolytics or antidepressants can be administered , but always in combination with psychological therapy. 

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