Fear of Gravity: Don’t Fall for It
Imagine being frightened of getting crushed by gravity’s pull. You’re 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 off into space until they die. You’re so scared of the thought, that just seeing a balloon float away may trigger a severe reaction.
Or, you might be convinced that the concept of gravity makes no sense at all. If you’ve had serious concerns about that invisible force of attraction pulling objects toward each other, you may be suffering from barophobia, or fear-of-gravity phobia.
As unusual as it may sound, such a condition does exist. 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 may suddenly malfunction, leaving us helpless and turning our universe upside down. People with barophobia are convinced that such a scenario is a real and imminent possibility, hence they live in fear of gravity every day. The mere thought of gravity and what it is capable of doing causes anxiety in people with barophobia. As a result, they avoid talking about it at all.
Like most phobias, barophobia could be triggered by a single, major event which left lifelong scars. Another probable trigger in certain individuals is an inherent, increased risk of developing an anxiety disorder.
Barophobia can be so extreme that the individual may avoid leaving their home. With the force of gravity all around, those 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
Psychological symptoms include:
- Anxiety disorder
- Anticipatory anxiety
Self-help for Overcoming the Fear of Gravity
Your first line of defense for combatting barophobia is to educate yourself about the condition. Become familiar with the causes of barophobia and its associated symptoms. Reading up on the force of gravity may also help. Dispelling myths helps to avoid overthinking or imagining far-fetched scenarios.
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 you how to take your 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 exercise, 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 often used because it is true in every sense. Several elements in a diet can either be harmful or beneficial in dealing with phobias or anxiety disorders.
For example, a high caffeine intake can induce symptoms that mimic anxiety, such as nervousness, restlessness, and a rapid heart rate. Phobia sufferers are therefore advised against too much caffeine.
Although sufferers can employ various self-help strategies such as meditation, exercise, and diet, phobias are delicate medical conditions that sometimes require expert help to fully treat. If you’ve tried self-help techniques and are still struggling, it may be time to seek professional help from a reliable medical provider.
Professional Help for Barophobia
Seeking professional help is a huge step toward recovery for a person suffering from phobia. Thankfully, a range of barophobia treatments are available. Options include:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
This procedure helps phobia sufferers 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.
With this approach, people with the phobia talk out their challenges with a qualified counselor or therapist. Speaking 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 medication 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 take hold.
The psychotherapist may also help patients by gradually introducing them to their phobia’s triggers. 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 Treatment
If you’re suffering from phobia and will be seeing a medical professional for the first time, it’s good to arrive at the appointment prepared. 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?
- 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 occur?
- 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, make the commitment and stick to the therapy plan. With proper care, people with barophobia will see their symptoms ease and their quality of life improve.