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 mysteries of outer space are intriguing for many Earthlings. But for some people, it turns to fear. Astrophobia is a severe and irrational fear of stars and space. It is one of the specific phobias that are related to a defined object or situation.

For many, astrophobia is highly connected to a fear of aliens. Films such as "Alien" play into the fear that hostile intelligent life may exist outside of our own planet.

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 "Gravity" 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

If you have astrophobia, you aren't just uneasy with the thought of space, stars, or alien life. You have a severe and persistent fear and avoiding anxiety related to it is having an impact on your life. It is one of the specific phobias.

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. You might be obsessed with locations such as Roswell, New Mexico, or the Area 51 in Nevada Obsessions with these places stem from 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 an 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:

    Source

    American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th Ed). Washington DC: Author; 2013.​​

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