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The fear of bridges is more common than one might think. This fear — called gephyrophobia — is a genuine dread felt by persons who fear the potential experiences brought on by being on a bridge. A gephyrophobiac may be fearful of a number of bridge-related things, such as the bridge’s height, or the fear of driving off of a bridge. The fear of bridges affects many people, though the exact number is unknown.
A fear of bridges is not as common as a fear of heights. The latter fear, termed acrophobia, is one of the most prevalent phobias around. Because the fear of heights is more general, though, phobias such as gephyrophobia often fall into its umbrella category. For example, someone who has a fear of flying and a fear of tall buildings may actually be an acrophobiac. If he is an acrophobiac, his fear of heights contributes to a fear of other situations, such as being in a plane or skyscraper.
The fear of bridges is common enough, however, to have a number of businesses exist because of it. Several companies in the United States alone employ people to drive gephyrophobiacs over bridges. People with a fear of bridges are believed to be perfect candidates for a bridge crossing service, as they believe they may not safely be able to cross the bridge themselves.
Someone with an intense fear of bridges may experience something similar to a panic attack. He might break into sweats, get the chills, and start involuntarily shaking while thinking about or driving over a bridge. A victim of this phobia may experience symptoms similar to vertigo, which is the dizzy sensation brought on by acrophobia. Because gephyrophobia is often an extension of acrophobia, the feelings brought on by the fear are quite similar.
The fear of bridges may also be brought on by bouts of claustrophobia, another common phobia. Someone who feels trapped on a bridge might feel he may never escape. Anxiety disorder, often brought on by situations such as this, is often associated with people who have panic attacks in these types of situations. In extreme cases of gephyrophobia, a person may go miles or even hours out of his way in order to avoid crossing a bridge.
Psychologists suggest that someone with an ingrained fear of bridges face his fear in order to overcome it. To do that, though, the victim must hone in on what he is truly afraid of. If it is the height of the bridge he is terrified of, for example, he might choose to work with a specialist in acrophobia.
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