What is the Fear of Outer Space?

Causes, Symptoms and Treatment for Astrophobia

Young man with telescope looking at sky, dusk, side view
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The unknowns of outer space has proved to be intriguing for many people on earth. However, these unknowns about the possibility of life on other planets can spark fear in many people.

In fact, astrophobia, or an irrational fear of stars and space, may take different forms, from fear of aliens to fear of space exploration. For many, astrophobia is highly connected to a fear of aliens. Films such as Independence Day, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and, of course, Alien, play into the fear that intelligent life may exist outside our own planet and that those life forms may be hostile to us.

Many of these films involve doomsday scenarios, in which life as we know it is threatened by an extraterrestrial attack.

Astrophobia Connections To Other Fears

Astrophobia may also be connected to fears of the dark, being alone or being away from home. Films such as Space Camp address the cold emptiness of outer space. Astrophobia can also stem from a fear of space exploration, triggered by such catastrophes as the explosions of Space Shuttles Challenger and Columbia. The film Apollo 13 addressed the very real danger that is associated with the space program.

Symptoms of Astrophobia

The symptoms of astrophobia are similar to those of other specific phobias, which include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety
  • Trembling
  • Feelings of terror
  • Panic
  • Rapid heartbeat

Examples of Astrophobia

Depending on the exact nature of your phobia, you may find yourself unable to watch films about aliens. An example of how astrophobia can manifest itself in an individual would be becoming obsessed with locations such as Area 51, which is a United States Air Force facility in the southern portion of Nevada.

Obsessions with the facility stem from much folklore and conspiracy theories about unidentified flying object (UFO) sightings and claims of a government cover-up of alien interactions. You may retain a healthy skepticism about those theories, but worry about what it could mean if they were true.

Exhibiting an interest in such a topic doesn't mean you suffer from astrophobia.

But, when the interest turns to obsession that can prove life-limiting, you should seek help from a mental health professional.

Treating Astrophobia

Astrophobia can be treated in the same way as any specific phobia. The focus of treatment will be helping you to unlearn your negative beliefs about space. You will be taught healthier messages and coping skills to help you avoid panic. Types of treatment for astrophobia include:

More About Phobias

Source:

American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th Ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Right diagnosis, Symptoms of Astrophobia

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