The Fear Of Escalators (Escalaphobia): Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Does riding an escalator in a mall make you anxious or dizzy? You are not the only one. Many people experience the fear of escalators, but the good news is that it is still possible to overcome this anxiety. 

This blog aims to investigate the underlying factors contributing to escalator phobia and offer actionable solutions that will assist you in overcoming your fear and successfully navigating those moving stairs.

What Is Escalaphobia?

The fear of escalators is known as escalaphobia. It is a specific phobia, an unreasonable and severe fear of a particular thing or circumstance. When near escalators, those who have escalaphobia may feel anxious, have panic attacks, or even fall unconscious.

A surprising number of people have escalator phobia. The EESF reports that approximately 35,000 escalators in the US and Canada move 245 million people daily.


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Causes of Fear Of Escalators (Escalaphobia)

Elevator phobics avoid circumstances that trigger their fear. Negative experiences, genetics, anxiety disorders, and physical or visual circumstances might cause this fear. This issue can be distressing, but there are effective therapies.

The exact cause of escalaphobia, riding escalators, is unknown, but it is thought to be linked to many factors, including:

  • vision issues
  • sensory problems
  • difficulty with balance
  • Vertigo due to medication

Where does Fear of Escalators stem from?

Escalaphobia, the fear of escalators, can often be rooted in other phobias. Here are some common examples you mentioned:

Acrophobia (fear of heights). 

This one is significant. For those who have acrophobia, the feeling of elevation on an escalator, particularly when going down, can be frightening. The inability to regulate one’s movement and the moving steps may worsen a phobia of heights.

Bathmophobia (fear of stairs and slopes)

Because escalators incorporate slope and stairs features, they may be the subject of this phobia. For someone who has bathmophobia, the continual movement can be highly frightening.

Neophobia (the fear of new things)

Neophobia is a fear of new. Some escalator fear is accompanied by fear of unfamiliar objects. They might not know how escalators operate or how they should be used per safety protocols. They may also fear the unfamiliar if they have never used an escalator.

Claustrophobia( fear of enclosed spaces)

Some individuals afraid of escalators also have claustrophobia, which can be made worse by an overwhelming fear of crowds and people riding the escalator simultaneously. 

Basophobia (the fear of falling)

In addition to their fear of escalators, some persons also have a phobia of falling-related accidents. They may be concerned about losing their balance, slipping or tripping on the moving escalator steps, or being trapped in the gaps or edges of the escalator.

Symptoms of escalaphobia: the fear of escalators 

People with escalaphobia may experience general unease, restlessness, or even dread of being near an escalator. 

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Feeling of choking
  • Nausea or abdominal cramping
  • Feeling detached from reality (derealization) or from oneself (depersonalization)
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Fear of dying


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How to overcome the fear of escalators

Conquering a fear of escalators (escalaphobia) takes time and patience, but there are effective strategies you can employ. Here are some approaches to consider:

Identify the Root Cause

Determine the Cause: Acrophobia, the fear of heights, and claustrophobia, the fear of enclosed areas, can sometimes be the root cause of escalaphobia. Understanding the underlying fear will help you choose the best course of action.

Relaxation Techniques

Many methods, including gradual muscle relaxation, deep breathing, and visualization, can be used to reduce escalator-related anxiety. Regular practice of these methods will help you develop your coping mechanisms.

Cognitive Reframing

Remove negative ideas about escalators. Reframe your thoughts to something like “Escalators are safe and well-maintained” rather than “I’m going to fall.”

Seeking Professional Help

  • Therapy: A therapist can guide you through exposure therapy in a controlled setting. They can also teach relaxation techniques and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to manage fear and negative thoughts.
  • Consider Virtual Reality (VR) Therapy: VR can provide a safe and controlled environment for gradual escalator exposure.

Myths About Escalators May Boost Fears

Myths about escalators moving too quickly steps flattening, or devices grabbing people can make people more anxious who are already inclined towards fear. The perception of escalators as mysterious and dangerous can heighten the sense of risk associated with them.

These misconceptions lead to a skewed perception of how escalators work in reality. A perceived threat often sets off the fear response, and myths can inflate that perceived threat above and beyond the actual risk.

Understanding and refuting these fallacies is vital to getting over your escalator anxiety. Knowing that escalators are built with safety safeguards may ease your concerns. Learn the facts to move fearlessly on escalators and gain confidence. 

By busting myths, you may empower yourself to accept escalators as secure and effective forms of transit.

Therapy Treatments for Escalaphobia

Escalaphobia, the fear of escalators, can be effectively treated with various therapy approaches. Here’s a breakdown of some common treatments;

Exposure Therapy. By addressing the causes of anxiety or fear step-by-step and under supervision, this approach helps people grow adapted to and less alarmed by their triggers over time. By combining relaxation methods with exposure, one can better control their emotional reaction and establish a more positive relationship with the circumstances they are afraid of.

Hypnotherapy. By tapping into the subconscious mind, hypnosis may lessen an individual’s emotional reaction to escalators.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT helps with escalator phobia. Escalator-related unpleasant feelings are first recorded. A CBT therapist checks these ideas for authenticity and replaces illogical worries with positive, realistic affirmations.

 Gradual visual and short-riding exposure helps desensitize. In addition to exposure, deep breathing helps alleviate anxiety. Recognizing and appreciating progress builds positive associations. People can confidently face escalator phobia after repeated behavior modifications and professional help.

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