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Altocelarophobia - The Fear of High Ceilings - Printable Version

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Altocelarophobia - The Fear of High Ceilings - forkezan - 02-21-2013 03:33 AM

I have had a fear of high ceilings ever since I was about 6 (I am now 29), so for 23 years this fear has plagued me and while it has gotten slightly better over time it still is debilitating on a regular basis.

For the uninitiated altocelarophobia is the name for a fear of high ceilings and/or tall buildings. Think of it like the reverse fear of heights (which I also have). To describe it, it feels like I am going to be sucked up to the ceiling, then fall to my death. As a kid I couldn't even go into a school gymnasium because of the ceiling and I would cry to get out of it and no one would understand what was wrong. Whenever we would go to the mall I would have to hold onto my mom's hand and close my eyes. My parents thought I was crazy so they sent me to a psychologist which only made matters worse because even the psychologist had no idea this existed.

23 years dealing with this intense fear, I have come to find some things that both lessen and greaten the fear:

•Carpet makes things more comfortable. The harder and glossier the floor the bigger the room feels and the more intense the fear.

•Wide open areas are the worst. If there are more things going on around me, I can be more distracted and thus paying less attention to the fear.

•Movement helps a ton. There is nothing worse than standing on a glossy floor, in the middle of a giant wide open room, waiting on line or just standing alone. Just thinking about that makes me anxious.

•Conversation helps distract me from my fear. Also, if I'm with my girlfriend, holding her hand relieves some tension.

•Sitting down almost relieves it completely. It is very difficult for me to enjoy a concert or event at a stadium if I'm standing, but if I'm sitting then I am almost completely fine.

•Darker colors make the room feel smaller and the ceiling feels lower so I am more comfortable then. Also, dimmer lighting makes me comfortable.

•Familiarity with a place helps. If I've been to a place dozens of times, or if I go there regularly like my local supermarket or Costco, I eventually become comfortable in that location. New places are much worse though.

I have lived with this phobia for too long, and after extensive research online I am at least happy to find that I am not alone with these feelings. So far I have not found any useful advice for conquering this fear and I'm hoping someone might be able to provide some here, or at the very least know what I've been going through. I've only told a handful of people about it in my lifetime as it's the one thing I am extremely embarassed about me as no one seems to understand what it's like, most people I've told seemed to think it's a joke. It is very real, very intense, and I just don't know what to do about it.

RE: Altocelarophobia - The Fear of High Ceilings - bsvn1985 - 09-29-2013 11:31 PM

Im so glad im not the only one this phobia!
Like you i have had feel fear since i was very young, since primary school. Im now 27.
I fear places like churches, large supermarkets and shopping centres there all enclosed under one roof. I also fear tall buildings so i dont go to large cities especiall London!
I hate this phobia as it has really impacted on my life.
I have avoided christenings and weddings and at the my uncles funeral i had to leave the church as i felt so bad!
The worse feeling i experience is a feeling like going to fall. If i ever go to any of these places ive usally got to hold onto somebody in case i feel like im fall. I also need to make sure i know where i can exit if i feel really bad.
Im going to start exposure therapy as im fed up with this.
I find it a really embarrasing problem as alot of people dont understand it and some people can be quite unsympathetic.

RE: Altocelarophobia - The Fear of High Ceilings - Mr Ian - 10-02-2013 09:56 PM

Hi bsvn1985 (and belated hi to forkezan) and welcome to oFear Smile

Sounds very similar to a vertigo type of thing - tho, as forkezan said - it's almost a reverse.

It's possibly an relationship with how the brain interprets 'spatial awareness' - the sense of balance and an activity called 'proprioception' (awareness of one's own body) that causes you to feel uneasy. The brain doesn't 'compute' it very well and leads to feeling dizzy and uneasy.
There's no real science on this as far as I know but this is what I suspect is most likely.

For overcoming this, it would be unlikely you can simply 'improve' how your brain perceives these things (I don't know of any research or treatment for this part of it - if indeed this is how it is caused) - but the exposure therapy will help you to adjust to the feelings you get when you're in those situations. Getting used to the dizziness, the uneasiness (and having some sort of understanding of what might be going on internally) should lead to reducing the stress these events cause.

Good luck and feel free to post more questions or thoughts


RE: Altocelarophobia - The Fear of High Ceilings - jakeduece - 10-03-2013 11:26 AM

Hi everyone. I joined specifically to say I had this fear for a long time. It sucks. For me, it was agoraphobia (fear of wide open areas/high ceilings, as well as social anxiety/dissociation)> I recently tried this supplement called (phosphatidylserine). I take 300mg of it every day and my fear basically vanished. I walked through Costco today and I was very comfortable looking at the ceiling and going on my merry way. Try it out, I'm telling you it works very well. It helps brain function, but also manages cortisol (its what controls stress/anxiety) which in turn, controls fears and phobias. Pretty cool Check it out!

RE: Altocelarophobia - The Fear of High Ceilings - forkezan - 12-06-2013 05:13 AM

Wow it's been 10 months since I last posted! Glad to see I've gotten some responses though! Since I last posted I've noticed I've been getting a little better. When I go into a building with a high ceiling initially I am very anxious but if I find a comfortable area in that same building, it allows me to calm down and I've been pretty good from there as long as I don't look up

For instance, I was at a concert recently, and sat on the mezzanine which was a good 50 feet up which made me feel afraid since I'm afraid of heights, but then the ceiling was probably another 75 to 100 feet up from that and I basically had a deathgrip on the chair I was sitting in for the first 20 minutes I was in there. But once the concert started I was comfortable and even after it ended I was not bothered by the ceiling or the heights.

Another instance is I was at the mall last night which again I was initially very afraid but went there for holiday shopping, came across a booth in the middle of the mall, at the point where the mall's ceiling was the highest but I was distracted by looking at the products and talking to the salesman, and afterwards I was pretty comfortable. It's almost like I have to show myself "See? There's nothing to be afraid of." Because the mall could be completely carpeted and I'm fine, but take the carpet away and I'm terrified. It makes no sense to me but finding a comfortable spot in a building with high ceilings seems to be helping, so I suggest giving that a try.

I'm curious about this phosphatidylserine supplement though. Thanks for the responses everyone! I hope you are all able to deal with this phobia as I am trying with mine.

RE: Altocelarophobia - The Fear of High Ceilings - Snooks - 12-08-2013 05:22 PM

Its great to see that you are making progress and although there is still a way to go, you should be hugely proud Smile

Little by little you are defeating it...... keep it up Mate Smile

RE: Altocelarophobia - The Fear of High Ceilings - PhobiaCentral (aka me) - 10-07-2015 10:47 AM

finnaly... someone that has the same fear... im currently 11 (yess, 11.) ive had the fear of high ceilings for as long as i can remember. my family thought i was crazy, so did i. now i decided to look it up. and people have the same fear! (some people.) Ashamed0002 Confused Mad0228

it feels like... im going to fall into the ceiling! like the ceiling is a hole... when i went to the mall playplace a few years ago, i had a TOTAL meltdown all because i looked up. im glad im not the only one <3[font=Arial][/font]

RE: Altocelarophobia - The Fear of High Ceilings - presleyr12 - 07-02-2017 10:42 PM

I have probably suffered from the fear of high ceilings since I was about 6 or so. I remember going to supermarkets and putting my hands on my forehead like a cap so I didn't have to look anywhere near the ceiling, I would sweat really badly like I was under really bad pressure. I would always hold someone's hand and I would shake from fear because it was so bad.

when I got taller I wasn't so scared of halls and supermarket ceilings. Maybe because I was so close to the floor due to being small it seemed scarier but now I'm 13 I'm still scared yet not in places like halls and stores. I also hate staring at the sky because I then can't look up and have to go inside to recover.

I do find it more comforting to have carpet, hold someone's hand, sit down or have dim lighting. I didn't realise those things help until I read them.
For me it just feels like the ceiling is going to fall on me or I'm going to suddently start flying up.
It doesn't help I have a fear of hights too.

When I was on holiday, there was this big skyline and I couldn't enter it without holding my dad's hand but because of everything happening like the arcades, the entertainment I kind of forgot about the whole ceiling situation.

I think it does erase itself as you get taller because you're not so close the ground and the ceiling doesn't seem as high as it used to be when you were small and young. Blob5

I actually had a panic attack in a museum because we were going up there really large stairs on a school trip and the ceiling was high everywhere and I just broke down crying and all I remember was a woman telling me to count to ten. It was a mixture of both of my worse fears. High ceilings and heights.

The way the teachers looked at me too like I was some insane child.

RE: Altocelarophobia - The Fear of High Ceilings - Momofanxietysufferers - 11-28-2017 10:23 PM

I am so glad my 12 year old found this today. She has suffered with this since a toddler and I couldn't figure it out. I remember when she was maybe 2 we were visiting my sister out of state and were going to go to church with her. We didn't even get inside before it started and being this was the first time I thought she was just scared of a new place so I tried to take her to the nursery but we had to go through a gym and the reaction scared me. We left of course as she was obviously scared and At that point I was to. These reactions seemed to come with the high open ceilings and especially with the bars that run in them. Walmart was a tough one when she was little but i would hold her and we got through now like you said she's comfortable there because we are seriously there 3x a week and it's like home away from home now. At 4 I took her to counseling because the school she had to start at 5 had a weird high ceiling with the different bars and long hanging lights that completely freaked her out (her older brother already went there which is how we knew). It helped her some even though the counselor didn't really grasp the severity of it. She got through elementary but now shes in middle school and having some trouble with gym. She seems to handle it ok for the most part but has had 2 rough episodes this semester and 1 during a test they had to sit in the middle of the floor to take and she ended up just randomly filling in the bubbles and she said it was soaking wet when she turned it in right before she ran to the nurse thinking she was dying. She doesn't really want me to tell the coach so were just hanging in there till 2nd semester when she no longer has it. I'm just so glad to see others with this as no one else in our family/friends comprehends even a little of what this is or how much it really is a part of my amazing daughter. Thank you for posting this and everyone sharing. I'm just so happy to know what it's called and to hear others explanations. Thank you

RE: Altocelarophobia - The Fear of High Ceilings - Snooks - 11-29-2017 12:03 PM

Hello Momofanxietysufferers Smile

One of the major issues with phobias is that you feel so alone, you believe that you are the only person this is happening to and that compounds the issue. Reading these forums let's you see that this is not true.

I hope that you can overcome the issues and that in some small way, this forum has helped you. Smile

RE: Altocelarophobia - The Fear of High Ceilings - Ocean - 04-17-2018 09:08 PM

I'm so happy that I have finnaly found my kind Smile
I remember when I was 6-7 I asked my mum to find some answers to my fear unluckily their were no evidence of anything like this so my mum was baffled and didn't know what to do. So I was in a primary school and I too struggled to do gymnastics or anything like swimming (swimming was terrifying when I had to a backstroke) also this made the teachers mad because I never got to do swimming properly. At one point I remember we were doing the Great Fire of London and we had to lie on the floor, now the hall is weirdly constructed their are beams on the wall that would seem to me like a lower roof so whenever we had to lie down I would go to the walls or near the doors. From this the teachers would go mad at me and say "get away from the wall" so when they tried talking to me I refused to move they said nothing would happen to me and I started gagging with tears it was dreadfull and what makes matters worse to this day I have been bullied since the age of 6 every school I goto I get bullied now im 12 and soon to be 13, now people in my family tell me to hit them but I refuse to I don't want to be as bad as them. The a phobia and my anxiety and self conscious body don't go together when I'm on holiday ever I love to swim in general but with crowds of people in the swimming pool I struggle to get in with having no top on so my nan always persuades me to face it and carry on doing things that make me happy but if I ever do I can't seem to ever stop seeing the ceiling.
-thanks for reading 005_smad

RE: Altocelarophobia - The Fear of High Ceilings - Mallen - 06-22-2018 09:11 AM

My 9 year old daughter has Altocelarophobia a therapy that has worked is EMDR Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing.

I hope this helps someone!!