Barophobia is defined as an irrational and overwhelming fear of gravity. There are 2 types: one where they fear that they will be crushed by the gravitational pull when it becomes too great; and two,they fear that gravity will simply disappear and they will simply float away.
What are the causes?
As with any phobia, Barophobia may be caused by a traumatic experience in the past that is automatically associated with gravity which has caused the person to experience anxiety or emotional disturbances. One might have fallen from a great height and have gotten injured. The experience may even be as trivial as reading it in a book or watching on television about the consequences of losing gravity or too much pull of it. Whatever the experience, this has caused the person to have anxiety or irrational reactions when thinking about gravity, thus affecting their everyday life.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms may vary. Some may just be slightly uncomfortable at the thought of gravity. Others will have anxiety or panic attacks and experience palpitations, tremors, dry mouth, dizziness, breathlessness and hyperventilation, muscle tension, feeling trapped or sometimes feeling out of control.
Majority of patients are able to diagnose themselves. The person seeks help when they realize that their irrational fear of gravity is compromising their activities of daily living. The primary physician should be aware of this diagnosis so as to promptly refer the patient to a professional for further evaluation and assessment.
Treatment as with any other phobias include “talk” therapy to teach the person to cope with their phobia, exposure and hypnotherapy, self-help techniques such as muscle relaxation or meditation, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Desensitization Therapy. Anti-anxiety medications may help in severe cases of Barophobia.