What is Gephyrophobia?

Gephyrophobia is the irrational and persistent fear of bridges, sometimes the specific fear of crossing a bridge, and is a surprisingly common fear. People with this phobia are afraid of crossing bridges or going through tunnels. In extreme cases, simply seeing a photo of a bridge or being near one is enough to set off symptoms. The fear of the bridge itself (rather than having to cross it) is also entirely possible. The fear may take two forms in this way and the phobic may be able to walk up to and touch a bridge without symptoms, while having to cross sets off symptoms, etc.

Gephyrophobia is also spelled "Gephysrophobia” or "Gephydrophobia”.

The root word 'gephyro' is Greek meaning 'bridge' and the word 'phobia' comes from the Greek word ‘phóbos’ meaning 'fear.'

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Symptoms of Gephyrophobia

  • Extreme Anxiety, Dread

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Confusion / Inability to Articulate Clearly
  • Lack of Focus
  • Irritability
  • Shaking
  • Feelings of Powerlessness
  • Obsession with the Subject of the Phobia
  • Fear or Feelings of Losing Control
  • Avoidance Behavior
  • Headaches

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Causes of Gephyrophobia

Gephyrophobia is a specific (or “isolated”) phobia, centered on non-social key factors. Isolated phobias tend to have some previous trauma (often in childhood and often physically injurious) as a root cause; a fear of bees may stem from an injury in childhood, for instance.

Upbringing can also play a role, such as parental warnings about a direct threat (such as “snakes can bite and kill you”) which is especially notable in cases where a threat is more imminent. (An allergy to bees or peanut butter, for instance, would naturally reinforce a real medical concern.)

It is thought that genetics and hereditary factors may play a role in specific phobias, especially those related to a danger of injury. (A primal “fight or flight” reflex may be more easily triggered in those with a genetic predisposition, for instance.)

By contrast, social phobias (like a fear of body odor or touch) are less well-understood, are driven by social anxiety, and are broadly labeled as “social anxiety disorder”.

In all kinds of phobias, external experiences and / or reports can further reinforce or develop the fear, such as seeing a family member or friend who is affected. In extreme cases, indirect exposures can be as remote as overhearing a reference in conversation, seeing something in the news, on TV, or in the movies.

Gephyrophobia, like most phobias, stems from a subconscious overprotection mechanism, and as with many phobias can also be rooted in an unresolved emotional conflict.

The fear of bridges can be a side effect of other phobias. For example, an intense fear of heights can trigger Gephyrophobia. Some people who suffer from Claustrophobia could develop Gephyrophobia as well.

An accident or death witnessed by the phobic over a bridge might lead to creation of a similar fear response over and over. The anxiety is the mind’s way of protecting the individual from ‘supposedly dangerous’ situations. Many individuals fear that the bridge might collapse or that the driver might lose control of the vehicle and crash into the depths below. Such fear is valid and normal in most people; but in the case of a Gephyrophobic it can lead to severe anxiety symptoms.

Learn more about the causes of phobias ›

Treatments for Gephyrophobia

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

  • Habit Strategies To Relax
  • Cognitive Therapy (CT)
  • In Vivo Exposure
  • Response Prevention
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Energy Psychology
  • Medication
  • Meditation

Learn more about phobia treatments ›

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