The EJBlog
You're Not Afraid Of Heights, Are You?
March 30, 2011, 12:52 PM
Fear Of Heights Image
Are you afraid of heights? I'm not. In fact, I'm high right now! (I live on a hill, you see.) A recent study by Dr. Dominique de Quervain at the University of Basel, Switzerland, suggests that the administration of glucocorticoid hormones may help to enhance the effectiveness of exposure therapy - exposing a person to his or her fear in a safe and controlled environment. In the case of Dr. de Quervain's experiment, the stress hormone cortisol was administered to 40 patents who all shared a fear of heights. The individuals in the experiment were exposed to a virtual reality height simulation, and later evaluated in a "real-life heights situation (going up an outdoor staircase with three levels)." The results? Less anxiety with the cortisol treatment (compared to a placebo group)! Nice! Exposure therapy has been shown to help combat fears and anxiety ranging from post traumatic stress disorder to more straightforward phobias like a fear of heights. It's a tried and true practice with proven beneficial effects, and it's great to see that glucocorticoid treatment may make it even more successful. Of course, now we're at the part where I need to ask some kind of important, challenging and highly relevant question... How do you treat the fear of exposure therapy itself?! Hmm...actually, I guess that's an easy one. Sources: 1. Stress hormone combats fear of heights [NewScientist] 2. Glucocorticoids enhance extinction-based psychotherapy [PNAS] 3. Patti conquers her fear of heights [K Mick]
Tags: Science, Phobias
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