Spacephobia (Fear of Outer Space)
Spacephobia is the irrational fear of outer space. Someone experiencing this mental disorder may find it virtually impossible to hear news about space or to even think about the universe in a profound way at all without experiencing some sort of intrusive anxiety. Though this is not always the case, someone with spacephobia may believe in numerous conspiracy theories and may be fearful of space due to the possibility of there being life on other planets.
Though some people with this condition may realize that there is nothing in the universe that we are currently aware of that should cause us any sort of intense fear, their anxiety will often supersede such logic. Someone with spacephobia may find it difficult to trust people in positions of power such as political leaders and scientists as they may believe them to be corrupt or hiding information about outer space.
Depending on several factors, such as nature and nurture, as well as the severity of their spacephobia, they may in fact experience full-blown panic attacks as a result of their intrusive fear of the unknown depths of space. For some individual’s, this may mean needing to be hospitalized for their anxiety.
Simply being opposed to space travel or being opposed to organizations like NASA is not intimation of spacephobia. This condition is a mental illness and is not the result of a stance or a choice, but rather is the result of an ineptness with thinking rationally.
Symptoms of Spacephobia
Someone experiencing full blown spacephobia will likely become very anxious when thinking of space or when someone brings up the subject of space in some capacity. Simply watching the news on TV and hearing something about space can bring forth intense bouts of fear in someone suffering from spacephobia.
The intense fear they may experience as a result of their spacephobia may also lean them in the direction of feeling very vulnerable and helpless due to the reality that humankind knows an unbelievably small amount of all that there is to know about our universe. Such ignorance of the unknown can oftentimes allow the imagination to “fill the gaps”.
This may mean that they may be tempted to imagine what could or is happening right now in space due to humankind’s ignorance of it. This can become a problem very quickly as wishful thinking and hyperbole will often reign supreme in such a situation. Someone with spacephobia will often find that it is very difficult for them to rationalize their fear or to discuss it with other people logically.
Their inability to get the reassurance they desire from their peers may cause them to resort to isolating themselves from others or to perhaps conform to certain conspiracy theories that involve outer space in some capacity.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of spacephobia:
Intense anxiety of the thought of outer space
Inability to cope with extreme emotions
May disbelieve the claims of astrophysicists
Muscle tension, shakiness, and sweating
Causes of Spacephobia
There is no known cause of spacephobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may play significant roles in someone developing this condition. For instance, someone who has a family history of mental illness, especially with anxiety disorders or phobias may have a increased chance of developing spacephobia. This is due to them having a higher chance of being genetically predisposed to developing mental illness to begin with.
If someone has a genetic predisposition to develop mental illness, then it may then only take some sort of traumatic experience for them to develop full blown spacephobia. Such a traumatic event may be that they were heavily influenced by a movie or a documentary about space that instilled a great amount of fear within them, or perhaps they developed an irrational fear of the idea of aliens and then just broadened that fear to also include outer space in all of its entirety.
Another plausible reason as to why someone may develop spacephobia is that perhaps they were already suffering with an anxiety disorder of some sort beforehand. For example, someone suffering with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) may find themselves obsessing about many different things in any given day.
Due to reasons not entirely understood, they may eventually develop an obsession about space or about the potential dangers of the unknown. Depending on the individual’s background and genetic predisposition, it is not implausible to conceive that they could eventually develop spacephobia as a result of their obsessions about space.
The reality is that we simply do not definitively know why one person suffers from spacephobia while another suffers from a different phobia. We can only analyze the pertinent causal factors.
Spacephobia Treatments (abridged)
There are no treatments specifically designed for spacephobia. However, there are several different types of therapies that are commonly used to help treat people who suffer from phobias in general. This is due to the fact that the main symptom that everyone who suffers from a phobia will experience is the same: Anxiety. With that being said, various forms of talk therapy, exposure therapy, and even some medications may be used to help treat someone with spacephobia.
Talk therapy may be very advantageous for someone with an intense, irrational fear of space as it can help them to understand the faults in their thinking and the many ways to fix them. Also, the patient can expect to learn several different coping skills that can help them for when they experience intense bouts of anxiety.
Besides talk therapy, exposure therapy may also be a very beneficial form of treatment for someone suffering from spacephobia. Due to the obvious problems that will inevitably come up as it regards to exposing the patient to outer space, the therapist will most likely show the patient pictures and/or videos of space in an attempt to exacerbate their anxiety. Theoretically, the more they are exposed to their fear, the less fearful they will become.
If you think you may have spacephobia or if you suffer from some of the symptoms described in this article, then you should talk to your doctor as soon as you can so that you can be properly treated.
Psychiatric Medications for Spacephobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe spacephobia 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 spacephobia 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 spacephobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of spacephobia.
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 spacephobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Spacephobia
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 spacephobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with spacephobia 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 spacephobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Meditation for Spacephobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from spacephobia. 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 spacephobia 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 spacephobia 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 spacephobia, 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 spacephobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Spacephobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as spacephobia. 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 spacephobia 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 spacephobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their spacephobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with spacephobia 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.
Yoga for Spacephobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from spacephobia. 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 spacephobia 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 spacephobia 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 spacephobia.
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 spacephobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Exercise for Spacephobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including spacephobia. 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 spacephobia 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 spacephobia, 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 spacephobia over time.
Caffeine Reduction for Spacephobia
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 spacephobia 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 spacephobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Spacephobia
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 spacephobia 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 spacephobia 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 spacephobia 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 spacephobia. 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 spacephobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Spacephobia
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 spacephobia 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 spacephobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with spacephobia 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 spacephobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.