Excessive Fear of Missiles or Bullets
People are respectful and wary of guns, and for good reason. But what if merely seeing a gun can cause you to panic? Do you find yourself getting dizzy after reading yet another headline about a mass shooting?
When you watch an action film where the hero is badly shot, you can sometimes sympathize and feel the pain from the injury. You may wonder, what if you actually see someone get shot in real life?
Or worse, what if you have to deal with a bullet wound yourself?
If you’ve been in the armed forces, a make-believe scene on TV may bring back unpleasant memories. Even a car backfiring can sound disturbingly like a gunshot or missile.
Do you suddenly feel your heart pounding in your chest? Are your palms damp? Do you have cold sweat running down your back? Did you run for cover in the middle of a shopping mall?
The people around you may not understand what’s going on. You’re too embarrassed to admit it to yourself too, but that’s the problem. To grow out of this fear, you have to identify why you feel so extremely about bullets and projectiles.
What Is Ballistophobia?
Ballistophobia refers to the fear of missiles, bullets, and guns. Anything that is forced out like a bullet, something that moves at high speed that could seriously harm you, can trigger this reaction.
The fear comes down to this: being shot.
Unless you’re in the military or police force, the likelihood of getting a gunshot wound is actually quite low. The average American is more likely to die from Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, or a heart attack. Having guns in the house is one factor that can increase the chances of getting shot. But people who suffer from Ballistophobia seldom own guns in the first place.
This condition can arise in people suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is common in soldiers and law enforcement officers. But, it can also come out of the blue. Genetics, biology, and brain chemistry play an important role here. If you have someone close to you who has a fear of missiles, guns, or bullets, then you’re likely to develop the phobia too.
Let’s look at the symptoms that are seen in someone with Ballistophobia.
Symptoms of Ballistophobia
Each case is unique, just as we all have different ways of perceiving images and sounds connected to missiles and bullets. A scene that may terrify one viewer may cause a milder reaction in someone watching at the same time.
It can be challenging to diagnose ballistophobia because different people show such a wide range of symptoms. They can be mental, emotional, or physical. These signs manifest at varying intensity, from mild anxiety and fear to a full-blown panic attack.
● Shuddering at the thought of missiles or bullets
● Avoiding TV shows and video games with bullets and missiles
● Not able to function normally due to constant anxiety
● You are aware that your fears are unreasonable, but you have no control over them
● Running away from the cause of fear
● Fear of fainting
● Increased heartbeat
● Dry mouth
● Shortness of breath
● Nausea or an upset stomach
● Feeling a knot in your chest
● Numbness or tingling feeling
● Hot and cold flashes (as if you’ve run for miles and your face feels cold/warm)
How Can I Deal With Ballistophobia?
One of the best ways to overcome Ballistophobia is to accept that you have this fear and studying your thinking patterns. Talk to yourself about why this fear is irrational and learn to identify fearful thoughts as they happen.
If you think you can trust someone, share your fears with them. They can listen to you and make you feel safer. Sometimes, all you need is to remove all those negative emotions from the mind. You can even write down your feelings in a journal. Once it’s on paper, you’re less likely to repeat those thoughts constantly.
Try watching an action movie with a trusted friend or family member. It could help you get used to the idea of people getting injured by guns or missiles. After every scene, look around and see that you’re safe and what they’re showing is a work of fiction. It is only a means of entertainment; nobody’s going to come and harm you.
Getting Professional Help
Ballistophobia ranges from mild to severe, so when you think you’re losing control over your reactions, consult a professional. Ask your family doctor to suggest to you someone who has specialized in phobias. The more experienced they are, the better they would know how to help you.
Professionals make use of many treatments that help people overcome their phobias. For many, behavioral therapy is the best treatment. It employs systematic desensitization, a method that aims to expose you to your fear and slowly get you used to it. Therapists will also teach you how to relax when you come face to face with bullets, missiles, or images of them. These strategies allow you to control and manage your reactions better.
The therapist can tell you to work on your thoughts and feelings. Here’s an example. When you experience anxiety or dizziness in response to your fear, your body feels as if you are in danger. Just telling yourself that “It’s okay, it’s just dizziness” can replace that feeling with safety and calm.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps to change your thinking patterns and the actions related to them. It could take about 10 to 20 weeks to see a marked improvement and a year to see a significant change in the way you react.
Of course, the results of these treatments depend on your therapist as well as on how well you respond to the therapy. Other options are available, including more immediate yet short-term relief like medicines.
How to Avoid It Altogether
As we know, you may not be guaranteed a 100% treatment. Some of these recommendations work on the symptoms and not the root of the issue. That’s why you cannot completely depend on them. A therapist can help you, but you also have to put in the effort to deal with Ballistophobia.
Alongside the therapy, it’s better to continue with positive self-talk, writing your thoughts down in your diary, and meditation. Meditation involves deep breathing, which can help you relax when you encounter a trigger for your phobia. The next time you get a dizzy spell or shortness of breath, remember these tips.
Guns are often featured in the news, movies, and TV shows, so learning to deal with this fear can greatly lessen your stress. You may not get the hang of it immediately, but don’t worry. It requires time, patience, and a strong will to conquer your phobia. Eventually, you’ll find yourself rooting for the hero as he defeats the villains in a gunfight.