Bathmophobia is a fear of stairs. You may be afraid of falling down a set of stairs or a steep incline. A traumatic accident involving a fall, injury or death may cause this specific phobic disorder. Stairs exist in many places, making them hard to avoid. You can overcome this fear of stairs with the help of psychotherapies.
People who have bathmophobia have an extreme fear of stairs or slopes, such as a steep hill. “Bathmo” is the Greek word for steps, while “phobos” means fear.
A person with a fear of stairs or slopes may be afraid of:
A phobia is an anxiety disorder that brings on an extreme fear of something that won’t typically cause harm. Bathmophobia is a type of specific phobic disorder. A person with this phobia fears a specific situation: stairs or slopes.
It’s hard knowing exactly how many people have a specific phobia, like bathmophobia. Many people may keep this fear to themselves or may not recognize they have it. We do know that about 1 in 10 American adults and 1 in 5 teenagers will deal with a specific phobia disorder at some point in their lives, though.
Someone with bathmophobia may feel anxious or fearful at the mere sight of stairs or a steep incline. These feelings may persist as they go up or down stairs or an incline.
Climacophobia means fear of climbing. With this phobia, symptoms like fear and dread only happen during the act of climbing. Someone with bathmophobia may also have climacophobia and vice versa.
Specific phobic disorders affect all ages and genders. Certain factors may increase your risk of having a specific phobic disorder like bathmophobia. These risk factors include:
In addition to climacophobia, someone who has a fear of stairs may have:
A traumatic experience can make you afraid of stairs and slopes. Potential causes of bathmophobia include:
Often, a person with bathmophobia is aware that a fear of stairs is extreme. But they can’t control how they feel when they see stairs or a slope.
Symptoms of bathmophobia may include:
The diagnostic manual for the American Psychiatric Association (the DSM-5) doesn’t recognize fear of stairs or slopes as a phobia. But you may receive a diagnosis if you meet these criteria for having a specific phobic disorder:
A mental health professional like a psychologist can help you overcome a fear of stairs and slopes. Treatments may include:
An extreme fear of stairs and slopes may make you want to stay home or in areas that you consider safe because they don’t have stairs or slopes. When you avoid going out, you may have agoraphobia.
Phobic disorders also increase your risk of:
You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Stairs and slopes are found in all kinds of places: homes, stores, buses, subways, schools and workplaces, to name a few. It isn’t practical to avoid stairs or slopes altogether. A fear of stairs and slopes can make you afraid to explore new places and limit your ability to be out in the world. Talk to your healthcare provider if you find yourself going to great lengths to avoid stairs or inclines. Most people with specific phobic disorders like bathmophobia overcome their fears through psychotherapies like CBT and exposure therapy.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/22/2022.
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