Selenophobia (Fear of the Moon)
Selenophobia is the irrational fear of the moon. Someone with this condition may especially be fearful of full moons due to the countless folklore tales and movie depictions of werewolves reacting hostile and violently when in the presence of a full moon. People with full blown selenophobia may find it so unbearably difficult to be outside when the moon is visible that they may even experience full blown panic attacks.
Someone with this condition may go as far as to avoid going outside at night or early in the morning when the moon is still visible. Though doing so may help them relieve some of their anxiety in the short term, they may only be exacerbating their fear in the long term by reassuring themselves every night that the moon is something to be feared.
It may also not be uncommon for people who suffer from selenophobia to also have some symptoms of spacephobia (fear of space), achluphobia (fear of the dark), sanguivoriphobia (fear of vampires), and samhainophobia (fear of Halloween), among others. However, some people will experience a deep fear of the moon alone. Part of their fear of the moon may be that they fear what they don’t know. The distance between Earth and the moon is difficult to wrap our mind’s around, let alone the entirety of visible space.
For people with full blown selenophobia, they may immediately experience a fight or flight response if they happen to see the moon in the sky or in a movie for example. This intense dread is enough to easily convince them that they should stay indoors during nighttime to help reduce their anxiety.
Symptoms of Selenophobia
Someone with selenophobia can expect to experience an intense amount of anxiety at the mere thought of the moon, let alone actually seeing it in the night sky. They may begin to get anxious during the evening when the sun starts to go down. During this time of the day, they may also be overly concerned with when they are going to be able to go home so they can avoid seeing the moon if they happen to stay out too late. So, avoiding their fear will likely be one of the most common ways that someone with selenophobia will try to alleviate their anxiety.
Depending on how severe their anxiety is, as well as their genetic makeup, their selenophobia may also open the door for them to develop other anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), among others. For instance, it is not implausible to conceive that someone could develop full blown OCD if they were to become obsessed with fearing the moon. However, such a risk will vary greatly from person to person.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of selenophobia:
Anxiety when looking at the moon
Anxiety when thinking of the moon
Avoiding being outside at nighttime
Unable to cope with their anxiety
Muscle tension and sweating
Causes of Selenophobia
There are no known causes of selenophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may play crucial roles. For instance, someone with a family history of mental illness, especially of anxiety disorders may have an increased chance of developing selenophobia. This is the genetic aspect of developing mental illness. If this were to be the case it may then only require that they experience some sort of traumatic experience for them to develop an irrational fear of the moon.
For example, someone may develop selenophobia due to them enduring some sort of horrible event that happened to occur at night while the moon was visible. Though the moon may have had nothing to do with their traumatic event, it is not implausible for someone to fear certain aspects of their environment during a traumatic event. Essentially, they may associate objects in their environment that were present during the event with the intense anxiety they experienced.
Though we do not definitively know what causes selenophobia, there is an overwhelming consensus among most mental health professionals that both genetics and environmental factors play significant roles in the development of virtually any mental illness. With that being said, it may be beneficial for you to look closely at the mental health of your close relatives, as well as your past and current environment. Doing so may shed some light as to whether or not you are at risk for developing selenophobia.
Selenophobia Treatments (abridged)
Exposure therapy may be very advantageous for someone suffering with selenophobia. This is also the case with virtually all other phobias. Exposure therapy works by having the therapist slowly expose the patient to that which their fear over a given period of time. Though this will inevitably give them a high amount of unwanted anxiety, it will also help to desensitize them from their fear. Theoretically, the more someone is exposed to something they fear, the less it will bother them over time.
It is very important that the therapist implementing exposure therapy is very adept at doing so and has a significant amount of experience with treating phobias. This is pertinent due to the fact that if the therapist were to expose the patient to too much too soon, then it may only exacerbate their condition as opposed to gradually improving it.
With regards to selenophobia, the therapist can expose the patient to the moon by showing the patient pictures of the moon, as well as videos of it. They can also ask the patient to try and expose themselves to the moon at night on their own time for a few moments and to then write down how they felt before, during, and after they exposed themselves to the moon so they can discuss it in their next session.
If you think you may have selenophobia or if you are suffering from some of the symptoms outlined in this article, then you should talk to your doctor as soon as you can so that you can be properly diagnosed and treated for your symptoms. Upon doing so, your doctor may refer you to see a specialist such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist for further treatment.
Exercise for Selenophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including selenophobia. Specifically, cardiovascular exercise can significantly help to relieve one’s stress. This is not to say that weight-resistance training would not benefit someone with anxiety, but rather that aerobic exercise is has been shown to be more effective at releasing those feel good chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins.
According to the American Psychology Association, exercise can help to condition the mind to better cope with stressful situations. This makes sense when we take into consideration the high amount of stress that the body is put under during strenuous exercise. So, if you yourself are sedentary, then engaging in some form of aerobic exercise may be able to significantly help reduce your symptoms of selenophobia by making it much easier for you to cope with the anxiety and stress that’s associated with this condition.
There are many different aerobic modalities that you can partake in to help reduce your symptoms of selenophobia, such as swimming, biking, skiing, walking, and jogging. You can also acquire the many benefits of exercise by playing sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball, and racquetball, among many other sports. Engaging in some form of exercise consistently may be able to help relieve some of the pain associated with selenophobia over time.
Practicing Yoga for Selenophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from selenophobia. In part, this is due to the meditative state of mind that yoga tends to emit in those who practice it on a consistent basis. Yoga can be thought of as meditation in motion. It can help to relieve some of the anxiety associated with selenophobia due to the mere fact that by engaging in yoga, your attention will be redirected to something more productive.
There are many different types of yoga that someone with selenophobia can benefit from, such as hatha yoga or hot yoga, among many others. Nevertheless, regardless of the many different forms of yoga that exist, virtually all of them can help to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that is associated with selenophobia.
If you have never practiced yoga before, then it may be in your best interest to take a class or watch some guided videos that can help you through each pose. Just like with meditation, the more you practice yoga, the more adept you will become at it. Besides helping you to reduce your symptoms of selenophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Reducing Caffeine for Selenophobia
It is no secret that consuming large amounts of caffeine throughout the day can aid in making you more anxious. This makes sense when we look closely at how caffeine affects our body’s physiology. When we consume a high dose of caffeine, our heart will start to beat faster and we become more tense. Essentially, our body will begin to go into a “fight or flight” state of mind. Such a frame of mind is often a precursor for someone with selenophobia to experience panic attacks.
So, consuming little to no caffeine throughout the day may be able to significantly help reduce your day to day anxiety. Although doing so will likely not make all of your anxiety go away, it will indeed help you to reduce any unnecessary suffering that you would have otherwise experienced if you were to consume a large amount of caffeine.
Beverages like coffee and tea are often high in caffeine, as well as some energy drinks. In fact, even some foods have caffeine in them as well, such as dark chocolate. Being more conscious of your daily caffeine consumption may help you to reduce some of the symptoms associated with selenophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Selenophobia
DBT is a very effective form of treatment for people struggling with emotion regulation. It is often used to treat people suffering from borderline personality disorder. Nevertheless, it can also be very advantageous for someone suffering from anxiety disorders like selenophobia too. This is due to the numerous amount of coping skills you can expect to learn in a DBT group. These groups typically last about 6 months long and can have anywhere from two people to several people depending on how many join the group.
One very effective DBT skill for helping someone with selenophobia is half-smiling. This technique works by having you think about that which you fear or upsets you all while slightly raising the corners of your mouth by lightly smiling, thus the term “half-smiling.” Although, it isn’t enough to just think about your fear while half-smiling, you also have to try and refrain from entertaining those painful emotions that your specific fear may evoke.
Mindfulness meditation is also heavily used in DBT and can greatly benefit someone with selenophobia as it is done in a group setting, which helps to put the patient out of their comfort zone. These group mindfulness practices may include drinking warm tea to hone in on the sense of taste and tactile senses or simply focusing on the breath.
Coping ahead is another very useful DBT skill that can help someone with selenophobia. With coping ahead, you will want to find a place where you can sit down quietly without distraction. Close your eyes and then think about the many different possible scenarios where you would face your specific fear and overcome it or cope with it. Doing so will help you to be much better adept at coping with your selenophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Psychiatric Medications for Selenophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe selenophobia due to the fact that people with phobias often experience panic attacks as well. Some common anti-anxiety medications include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, among many others.
These types of drugs are not typically taken on a daily basis, but they may be insofar as their selenophobia is severe enough. However, this is something that you should first discuss with your doctor before you decide to do so to ensure that it is safe and effective.
These types of medications aren’t only for people who suffer from depression as they can also help people suffering from anxiety disorders as well, such as selenophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of selenophobia.
These types of drugs are typically taken on a daily basis. They can indeed help prevent panic attacks from occurring, but they are more so used to help reduce people’s daily anxiety. Talk to your doctor to see if taking antidepressants can help to reduce your symptoms of selenophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Selenophobia
CBT is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve one’s mental health. It is a modality that is often used to treat people suffering from anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. Someone with selenophobia may also be able to benefit from CBT as well seeing as how it would allow them to have a much better understanding as to why they think and behave the way they do in relation to their irrational fears.
CBT can be immensely helpful for someone with selenophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with selenophobia is exposed to their fear, they will almost always have an instantaneous subconscious reaction to their fear. Such a lack of introspection is likely a large part of why someone with this condition will suffer to the extent that they will. CBT can help you to take a step back and analyze your fears more deeply than you typically would.
Besides learning to be more fastidious with regards to understanding one’s specific fears, someone with selenophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Selenophobia
MBSR is an 8-week evidence-based program that offers secular, intensive mindfulness training to help people who are suffering from anxiety, stress, depression, and other sorts of mental anguish. MBSR may be able to significantly help someone who is suffering from selenophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with selenophobia can expect to learn a plethora of different skills that can help them to relieve the intense anxiety that’s associated with their specific phobia.
Talk to your doctor or therapist to see if MBSR can help you to reduce the intensity of your symptoms of selenophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Practicing Meditation for Selenophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from selenophobia. Specifically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be quite beneficial for helping people to enter into a more equanimeous state. There are many different ways with which you can implement mindfulness meditation and there are also many different meditation apps which are designed to make things as easy as possible for you.
Mindfulness has the potential to significantly help those suffering from selenophobia due to how it will help one to distract themselves from their fear by refocusing their attention onto something else that does not have any sort of emotional baggage attached to it, such as by focusing on the breath for example. This is one of the most basic ways that one can meditate and be present.
For someone with selenophobia in the midst of a panic attack, redirecting one’s attention to the various sensations felt when breathing can actually help to reduce the amount of mental anguish experienced during such an influx of anxiety.
To implement mindfulness meditation to help relieve one’s symptoms of selenophobia, you can do so by paying close attention to the way the muscles in your abdomen and chest contract and relax with every inhale and exhale. You can spend time dwelling on how it feels as your chest expands during each inhale and how it sinks in with every exhale.
Besides focusing on your breathing, you can also focus on the sounds around you, the way your skin feels as you touch certain objects, the way foods taste, as well as the way certain aromas smell. Essentially, honing into your 5 senses can significantly help you to reduce some of the anxiety that is associated with selenophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Selenophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as selenophobia. It can be an efficient way to help desensitize the patient to their specific fears. Be that as it may, it is imperative that the therapist implementing it on their patient is very adept at doing so. For example, if the therapist were to slightly expose someone with selenophobia to their fear, then it may not be very effective as they may need a higher amount of exposure to truly trigger any sort of worthwhile change in the patient.
The same can be said for the antithesis of this scenario. If the therapist were to excessively expose someone with selenophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their selenophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with selenophobia has a very strong sense of just how severe their symptoms are so that they can know the level of exposure that the patient will likely be able to handle.