The Fear of Gravity, Don’t Fall for It
Imagine being frightened from getting crushed by gravity’s pull. You are convinced that gravity is a real threat, and you’re terrified of it. Think about being worried that gravity will disappear, leaving all of mankind to float in space until they die. You’re so scared of such a thought that just seeing a balloon float away may trigger a serious panic attack.
Or, you might be convinced that the concept of gravity makes no sense at all. If you have had serious concerns about that invisible force of attraction pulling objects toward each other, you may be suffering from barophobia, or the fear of gravity phobia.
As unusual as it may sound, such a condition exists! Let’s take a closer look into the subject.
What is Barophobia, the Fear of Gravity?
Barophobia is an irrational and intense aversion to gravity. It is the fear that gravity can all of a sudden go wrong, leaving us helpless and literally turning our universe upside down. People with barophobia are convinced that such is a real and imminent possibility, hence they live in fear of gravity every day of their lives. The mere thought of gravity and what it is capable of doing give people with barophobia anxiety. As a result, they avoid mentioning it at all costs.
Like most phobias, barophobia could be triggered by a single major event that scarred a person for life. Another probable trigger is some people’s increased risk of developing an anxiety disorder.
Barophobia can be so extreme the individual may avoid leaving their home at all. With the force of gravity all around us, people suffering from barophobia think the only recourse they have is to try and stay in one place as much as possible.
The fear of gravity manifests in a variety of symptoms, most of which are highly debilitating to the phobia sufferer’s health.
Physical symptoms include:
● Sweating profusely
● Loss of reality
● Hot or cold flashes
● Panic attack
Phycological symptoms include:
● Anxiety disorder
● Anticipatory anxiety
Self-Help for Overcoming the Fear of Gravity
The first thing to do, as far as barophobia is concerned, is to educate oneself about the condition. Become familiar with the barophobia symptoms. Reading up and increasing one’s knowledge about gravity may also help. Doing so helps the mind to avoid overthinking or coming up with situations that couldn’t possibly be true.
Meditating has been proven effective in dealing with anxiety and depression. Practicing meditation techniques consistently could provide you the tools you need to deal with your triggers as they arise, ultimately quelling your extreme mental reactions. Meditation teaches to take one’s mind off the trigger and instead focus on positive, calming thoughts.
Exercise is another effective way to reduce anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and depression. Physical activity releases the body’s feel-good hormones (endorphins), thereby helping put an individual in the right state of mind. Anxiety patients are encouraged to engage in regular exercises consistently, as they are beneficial for their condition.
Maintaining a healthy diet can also help ease barophobia symptoms. “You are what you eat” is a phrase a lot of people use because it is true in every sense. Several elements in a diet can either be harmful or beneficial in the healing and recovery of individuals with the phobia.
For example, a high caffeine intake can induce symptoms that mimic anxiety, such as nervousness, restlessness, and a fast heart rate. Phobia sufferers are therefore advised against too much caffeine.
Do note that although sufferers can employ various self-help strategies, phobias are delicate medical conditions that require expert help to fully treat. Seeking professional help from a reliable medical provider is, thus, highly recommended to fully complete the healing process.
Professional Help for Barophobia
Seeking professional help is a huge step toward recovery for a person suffering from phobia. Thankfully, today, a range of barophobia treatments are available. Options include:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
This procedure helps phobia sufferers to challenge unhelpful thoughts so they can change their behavior and develop strategies to manage their symptoms effectively. CBT is considered to be one of the most effective ways of treating phobic conditions and mental disorders today.
With this approach, people with the phobia talk out their challenges with a qualified counselor or therapist. Speaking out about their fears helps phobia sufferers deal with their emotional distress. This treatment aims to help sufferers understand and resolve the factors that caused the phobia.
Doctors may also recommend or provide prescription medicine for phobia, especially in severe or debilitating cases. The medication aims to manage symptoms in the short term, or until the effects of the therapy start to show.
The psychotherapist may also help patients by introducing them to their phobia’s triggers gradually. The theory is that by exposing the patient to triggers little by little, over time, the patient may overcome their fear.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
A popular procedure for treating personality disorders, dialectical behavior therapy has also proven effective in helping barophobia sufferers. This treatment, which typically takes six months, empowers patients to develop coping skills for their excessive symptoms.
A popular intervention associated with this type of therapy is the “half-smile” technique. The half-smile is an “outside-in” approach, meaning it focuses on concrete actions to cause a change in internal processes, such as thoughts and feelings. For instance, in a session, patients may be asked to do a half-smile as they think about their triggers — in this case, gravity. This simple practice aims to teach patients to be in control of their reactions.
Other interventions from this treatment include, but are not limited to: mindfulness; distress tolerance skills; and reality acceptance skills.
Going for the Treatment
If you’re suffering from phobia and thinking of getting help from a medical professional for the first time, it would be good to come to the appointment prepared with details. Your therapist will seek information to fully grasp your condition and identify the most appropriate course of action for you.
Some of the questions your therapist may ask include:
● What prompted you to seek therapy now?
● At what point in your life did you start panicking over the thought of gravity?
● When are your symptoms likely to flare? What thoughts go through your mind before your symptoms happen?
● Have you ever distracted yourself to avoid thinking about your trigger?
● Do you notice things that make your symptoms seem better or worse?
● How are your symptoms affecting you and the people around you?
● How have you been coping with the symptoms that brought you into therapy? What have you tried so far?
● Do you have (or have you had) any medical condition for which you are taking (or had taken) prescribed medication?
The first step in addressing the fear of gravity is to face it head-on. No more hiding at home! Even if the process takes time, patients must commit and stick to the therapy plan. With proper care, people with barophobia will see their symptoms disappear and their quality of life improving tremendously.