This blog will guide the reader into probing the cause, symptoms and treatments for Selenophobia
Selenophobia is an irrational fear of the moon.
The person who is suffering from this phobia will undergo a full-blown panic attack when they view the moon.
Whenever the person stays indoors away from the source of his anxiety, he is exacerbating his fear.
This type of phobia is initiated by the hype that is created in the movies and books about vampires and full moon.
Thus, leading the person, who is already vulnerable to anxiety and scares into Selenophobia.
Moonlight and moon have a very surreal connection to superstitions and mythical creatures.
It is linked with werewolves, folklore that makes mere humans bloodthirsty.
Moon has also been related to lunacy and hysteria, in short with human behavior.
Full moon also affects the tide and thereby brings about mood swings especially in women.
Studies show that during the full moon the crime rates go up during full moon.
In women, the menstrual cycle and subsequently the pre-menstrual behavior is often thought to be allied to the moon, bringing on mood swings, depression in women.
Selenophobia may also be related to or can exist in concordance with Spaceophobia (fear of outer space), Sanguivoriphobia (fear of vampires) and Achluphobia (fear of the dark).
The sufferer might have these or one of these in addition to their fear of the moon.
Selenophobia is a fear of the moon.
It is an intense fear that restricts the movement of the person suffering from it, so much so that he will be unable to engage in meaningful social gatherings that are held at night and will avert from there.
Symptoms of Selenophobia
- Staying indoors on a full moon night
- hot flashes or chills
- shortness of breath
- pain or tightness in the chest
- rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
- Racing heart
- chest pain
- Sweaty palms
- Distressed eating or sleeping habits
- Persistent fear of the moon or moonlight
- Closing windows, using the curtains to prevent moonlight from entering
- headaches and dizziness
- feeling faint
- a choking sensation
- numbness or pins and needles
- dry mouth
In some very severe cases, a person suffering a panic attack triggered from Selenophobia or Scoptophobia.
Usually when exposed to its triggers such as being seen or stared at. Can have one/or all of the following symptoms.
- fear of losing control
- fear of fainting
- feelings of dread
- fear of dying
- fear of harm or illness
- guilt, shame, self-blame
- Withdrawing from others
- Feeling sad or hopeless
- Feeling disconnected
- Confusion, difficulty concentrating
- Anger, irritability, mood swings
- anxiety and fear
Causes of Selenophobia
Selenophobia can also have its roots in one’s childhood.
A traumatic event that has occurred during a full moon could lead to lifelong fear of this celestial object.
In some people, the fear goes away with time while in others it simply keeps on rising.
The moon is also linked to spiritual and mystical elements.
People with a sensitive mental disposition or nature can get easily influenced by tales or anxious humans around them.
Emotional learning at a young age occurs to protect us.
The conditioning done by a grown up, a movie, book or simply an event can cause this phobia to protect the mind from further trauma. However, this emotional learning becomes
Selenophobia, like all other specific phobias, has no known cause.
These types of phobias can be a result of a number of factors such as biological (genetics) and or environmental (past experiences or social learning).
Genetics refers to the genes and neurotransmitters in our body.
Someone with a family history of a phobia/mental disorder has a higher chance of having the same or different disorder in the future.
This is because the genes of the parents are transferred to their children, thus any alteration in the genes of one’s parents is inherited by the child.
This genetic tendency to develop a mental disorder/specific phobia can also be referred to as a Diathesis-stress relationship.
According to this, one with a genetic predisposition will not develop symptoms of Selenophobia until and unless there is some trigger event, instigating anxiety or fear of the moon.
As mentioned earlier, one can develop Selenophobia as a result of OCD.
Thus, someone who is already diagnosed with this disorder is more likely to have this irrational fear of stares.
An environmental trigger event can be for example, a traumatic childhood experience with stories of the moon and how werewolves are related to it.
It could have happened that an accident occurred during the full moon and the person has thus developed a fear since then.
The root cause is still embedded in a personal experience and can be ousted with therapy. It could also be frightened by superstitions.
Another reason to develop Selenophobia could be watching movies that depict the full moon or the blood moon to be the time when blood sacrifices are made to the devil and cult groups keep their rituals under the moon.
Thus, Selenophobia is caused by both a genetic predisposition and environmental trigger events.
Treatment of Selenophobia
Selenophobia, like all other specific phobias, has no exclusive type of treatment that is specifically designed to treat it.
Like all the other specific phobias, Selenophobia is treated by a number of different therapies including, Exposure Therapy, Cognitive-behavioral Therapy (CBT) and or medications that lower downs the anxiety or other physical symptoms.
• Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
It is one of the most frequently used treatments for patients with almost all kinds of mental disorders.
Selenophobia is defined as the irrational fear of the moon.
Thus, the therapist helps the patient in replacing these irrational thoughts with more rational ones.
The patients are helped out in analyzing and justifying the way they feel about the moon.
Therapists assist them in uncovering the reasons behind their fear and later they provide them with alternate, pleasant thoughts.
The patient is told to maintain a thought diary (with ABCD column) which provides them a replacement for every irrational thought they have, when thinking about a particular situation.
The ABCD stands for:
i. A (antecedents) a situation or triggering event.
ii. B (belief) the thought that comes to one’s mind when in that triggering situation.
iii. C (consequences) the symptoms/feelings caused by that event/thought
iv. D (dispute) alternate, rational thoughts provided by the therapist in an attempt to dispute/challenge those irrational beliefs.
This last section of the thought diary is what really plays a role in helping the person feel good/less anxious.
• Exposure Therapy
It is one of the most frequently used ways of treating patients with Selenophobia (or any other kind of specific phobia).
In this therapy, the patient is exposed to the source of his fear over a certain span of time.
As the therapy progresses and the patient is able to control his anxious feelings, imagery can be used to take the treatment a step further.
In this part of the treatment the patient is asked to visualize/imagine that he is outside under the sky at night during a full moon.
During this process of imagery, one actually feels being in that particular situation or place, experiencing various senses.
Once the person successfully, without feeling anxious clears this step of the therapy.
While the patient is being exposed to different intensities of stimuli during the various stages of therapy, the therapist simultaneously teaches them coping exercises.
These include, breathing techniques or muscle relaxation methods to lower their anxiety, when in an actual fear/anxiety causing situation.
This teaches them how to remain calm when exposed to the fear stimuli.
Before actually starting the exposure therapy, the therapist needs to figure out the intensity of the patient’s fear, as to deduce whether they will be able to undergo this treatment, without any physical or psychological harm caused to them during the exposure processes.
• Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
MBSR is a meditation therapy, used to manage stress or anxiety. It is an 8-week program which includes group sessions.
Mindfulness meditation and Hatha yoga are practiced in these sessions.
Lectures and group discussions are also done to talk about mental health and increase interactivity.
In mindfulness meditation the person is told to, for example, to focus on the sensations felt while breathing or the rhythm of the chest rising and falling during the process.
This distracts the person’s attention from something stressful to something which is neutral and soothing.
For quick and effective treatment, patients are also given a set of home works, for example 45 minutes of yoga and meditation sessions for 6 days a week and to record their results/feelings in a book or diary for 15 minutes a day.
• Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
This is another effective therapy used to treat Selenophobia.
It is more commonly used with people suffering from personality disorders, but is also useful with patients suffering from this type of specific phobias.
Coping skills are taught in the DBT group which lasts for about 6-months and can have a number of people (depending on how many join the group).
i. Half-smiling is the first module of DBT. It is a technique that is used with patients who are distressed because of their irrational thoughts.
The technique is known as ‘Half-smiling’ because the person is first advised to think about the stimuli that fears or upsets them, and while doing so they are told to lift the corners of their mouths by subtly smiling.
Smiling is not that will help one get rid of these unpleasant thoughts, it is the person’s ability to constrain itself from thinking about those thoughts while half smiling.
ii. Mindfulness, the second module, is another technique used in DBT groups which helps the individual in getting rid of those negative thoughts.
Individuals are told to focus on the present and be attentive to what is going on around them at the moment.
This helps in breaking the link between their mind and any negative thought that might come to them then.
iii. The third technique or module of the DBT is distress tolerance skills.
This module teaches people to calm themselves down in healthy ways when they are distressed or emotionally overwhelmed.
Individuals are allowed to make wise, rational decisions and take immediate action, rather than being captured by emotionally destructive thoughts that might make the situation worse.
Reality acceptance skills are also learnt under this model so that people fully accept reality and later make plans on how to address the problem.
They are not just one of the many treatment therapies used for Selenophobia, instead they are one of the most common ways of relaxation used by many people.
Yoga tends to stimulate the meditative state of one’s mind while the person is in a particular yoga posture.
Through yoga/meditation the mind is diverted towards something more productive and calmer, allowing the person to escape the negative, distress causing thoughts.
Out of a number of yoga types, one can benefit from any yoga type/pose they like.
Hatha yoga is one of the different types of yoga.
The breathing techniques or the imagery one creates while in a yoga posture are the real factors that makes the person feel less anxious and diverts their mind, away from the thoughts of the moon.
• Drug Therapy
Drugs are used to reduce the physical symptoms caused by Selenophobia.
Drugs are very quick in effectiveness, as they start showing progress in the patients’ health at least 2 weeks after the medicine is taken.
This type of biological treatment is usually more effective if the cause of the phobia is only genetic.
However, these drugs/medicines are not to be taken without a doctor’s prescription or consultation.
Two types of drugs are used in the treatment of this phobia:
- Anti-anxiety Drugs
Medicines like Klonopin are anti-anxiety drugs.
They are most commonly used with patients who experience panic attacks and also lowers their anxiety by binding to receptor cells of the brain that cause these unpleasant symptoms.
- Antidepressant Drugs
These drugs, as the name suggests don’t only treat depression but are also very effective in treating phobias.
Medicines like Paxil reduce the anxious feelings of a person and makes him feel calm.
They need to be taken on a daily basis but not without a doctor’s advice.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes Selenophobia?
Selenophobia is a fear of the moon and the person suffering from it has anxiety when he even thinks about the moon.
Why are people afraid of looking at the moon?
People are afraid of looking at the moon due to their fear of being involved with either a ritualistic sacrifice or the tales of becoming a werewolf.
How does a full moon affect your emotions?
According to many people and some research, the moon’s energy also intensifies our emotions.
It is like the changing tides, when it’s full, it can bring all of your emotions to the surface. When it’s a new moon, it’s time to be calmer and more reflective
Can Moonlight damage your eyes?
No. the moonlight cannot damage your eyes.
Because it does not have a light of its own but reflects the Sun’s light.
What is a Supermoon?
A Super Moon is a full moon or a new moon when it gets closest to the Earth in its elliptical orbit.
Examples of other interesting phobias
Titles to Read From
- Overcoming Anxiety, Worry, and Fear: Practical Ways to Find Peace
- by Gregory L. Jantz Ph.D. and Ann McMurray
- Stop Fear from Stopping You: The Art and Science of Becoming Fear-Wise by Helen Odessky
- Badass Ways to End Anxiety & Stop Panic Attacks! A counterintuitive approach to recover and regain control of your life by Geert Verschaeve
- Science of Yoga: Understand the Anatomy and Physiology to Perfect your Practice by Ann Swanson