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Ambulophobia (fear of walking): causes, symptoms and treatment

Ambulophobia (fear of walking): causes, symptoms and treatment

January 22, 2021

There are different types of phobias as we explained in the article "Types of phobias: exploring the disorders of fear." The human mind often surprises us, and one of those cases in which this happens 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, its symptoms and its consequences so you can understand this phenomenon more thoroughly.

What is the phobia to walk

Ambulophobia is the irrational and persistent fear of walking or, in reality, 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 gets 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 an authentic fear of walking, at least to do so without a cane or support that allows him to walk. travel.

Some of the individuals who experience this disorder are afraid to walk 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 it is a fear that many children can experience, but they quickly overcome it no more Although it is completely normal at an early age, it stops being adult, and the person with ambulophobia may feel anxious or fearful where they think there is danger of falling, and this fear and discomfort goes beyond natural fear, becoming completely disproportionate. with the situation.

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Causes of ambulophobia

The fear of walking is often the result of a traumatic experience of 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 he can get dizzy in any situation, fall down and hit his head.

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

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

The classical conditioning was investigated for the first time by Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist famous for his experiments with 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 .

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Other causes of this phobia

The theory that phobias have an environmental origin and that they are learned by classical conditioning is accepted; nevertheless, learning by observation that is similar to modeling and imitation can also be learned through vicarious conditioning, but it is not the same.

Other authors also think that we are biologically programmed to suffer phobias , since fear is an adaptive emotion that has served humans 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.


Ambulophobia presents symptoms similar to any phobic disorder, because the only thing that changes is the stimulus that elicits these symptoms. Phobias usually cause a symptomatology that occurs at 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 stimulation 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.


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

This form of therapy employs different techniques. In the case of phobias, the most used are relaxation techniques and exposure techniques . Now, a technique that combines both is the systematic desensitization, which consists of exposing the patient to the phobic stimulus progressively 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 cognitive therapy based on Mindfulness, acceptance and commitment therapy and hypnotherapy.

In severe cases, anxiolytics or antidepressants may be administered, but always in combination with psychological therapy.

Phobia ManiA (January 2021).

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