Barophobia (Fear of Gravity)

People with barophobia fear gravity. They worry that gravity will cause a fall that leads to serious injury or death. Or they fear that gravity may topple a heavy object onto them. A person with barophobia may also be frightened of images of outer space where gravity doesn’t exist. A traumatic accident may cause a fear of gravity. Psychotherapies can help.


What is barophobia?

People who have barophobia have an intense fear of gravity. The word combines two Greek words: “baros” means pressure or weight, and “phobos” means fear.


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What do people with barophobia fear?

A person with a fear of gravity may be afraid to do certain activities or go certain places. They may be fearful of:

  • Too much gravitational pull putting pressure on them and crushing them.
  • Gravity causing a heavy object like a boulder to fall, crushing them or someone they love.
  • Falling from a high place or down a flight of stairs.
  • Dropping and breaking items due to gravity.
  • A lessening of gravity that causes people to fly up in the air and potentially into space.

What is a phobia?

People who have phobias, a type of anxiety disorder, develop an extreme fear of something that isn’t harmful. Barophobia is a specific phobic disorder that causes a fear of something in the natural environment.


How common is barophobia?

It’s hard knowing exactly how many people have a specific phobia, like barophobia. Many people may keep this fear to themselves or may not recognize they have it. We do know that about 1 in 10 American adults and 1 in 5 teenagers will deal with a specific phobia disorder at some point in their lives, though.

Symptoms and Causes

Who is at risk for barophobia?

You may be more likely to develop barophobia or another specific phobic disorder if you:

  • Are female.
  • Have a family history of anxiety disorders.
  • Have a gene change (mutation) that increases the risk of an anxiety disorder.


What other phobias are associated with fear of gravity?

Many people have more than one phobia. These phobias are often connected. Someone who has a fear of gravity may also have:

  • Acrophobia (fear of heights).
  • Apeirophobia (fear of infinity).
  • Astrophobia or spacephobia (fear of outer space).
  • Basiphobia (fear of falling).
  • Bathmophobia (fear of stairs or steep slopes).

Why do I have a fear of gravity?

A traumatic experience may cause you to fear gravity. Potential barophobia causes include:

  • A scary fall that results in serious injuries.
  • An accident like being thrown from a horse or falling out of a moving vehicle.
  • Witnessing another person’s injury or death due to a fall.
  • Having a heavy object like a bookshelf fall on you or someone you love.
  • Scary television shows or movies about astronauts being harmed or swept into outer space.

What are the symptoms of barophobia?

People with phobias typically recognize that their fear is irrational. But this doesn’t make it easy to control their physical reactions when something triggers their fear.

Symptoms may include:

Diagnosis and Tests

How is barophobia diagnosed?

There aren’t any tests to diagnose the fear of gravity. Your healthcare provider can diagnose the condition based on discussions with you about:

  • Your symptoms.
  • How long they’ve been happening.
  • How they interfere in your life.

You may have a specific phobic disorder if you have:

  • Feelings of severe fear or anxiety when you think about gravity.
  • Daily fear of gravity that lasts for at least six months.
  • Symptoms that come on anytime you think about gravity.
  • Changes in behaviors intended to help you avoid phobia triggers.
  • Poor quality of life due to phobia symptoms.

Management and Treatment

What is barophobia treatment?

A mental health professional can help you overcome this fear of gravity. Treatments include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a form of psychotherapy (talk therapy) that helps you understand why you think and feel the way you do about gravity. You learn to use this knowledge to change your perceptions and responses.
  • Exposure therapy: This type of psychotherapy works for most people with specific phobias. Your therapist gradually exposes you to images like astronauts floating in outer space to desensitize you to the fear. You work your way up to purposefully dropping items to see gravity in action.
  • Hypnotherapy: A therapist induces a hypnotic state or trance to help you access memories, thoughts and emotions about the fear. You may be able to change your thoughts while under hypnosis. And you can address findings from hypnotherapy during psychotherapy sessions.
  • Medications: Your healthcare provider may prescribe anti-anxiety drugs or antidepressants to help you cope as you go through therapy. You may not need these medications after you finish therapy.

What are the complications of barophobia?

An extreme fear of gravity may make you afraid to leave places that you deem safe. This can trigger another phobia called agoraphobia. Your need to feel secure may cause you to stay home to avoid falling or encountering phobia triggers. This avoidance can cause you to miss out on fun or necessary parts of life.

Phobic disorders also increase your risk of:

Living With

When should I call the doctor?

You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:

  • Panic attacks.
  • Persistent anxiety that interferes with daily life or sleeping.
  • Signs of depression or problems with substances.

What questions should I ask my doctor?

You may want to ask your healthcare provider:

  • What’s causing this phobia?
  • What’s the best treatment for me?
  • Should I try exposure therapy?
  • How long will I need therapy?
  • Can medications help?
  • Should I watch for signs of complications?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

A fear of gravity can make you afraid to venture out and try new things. You may excessively worry that gravity will make you fall or make a heavy object fall on top of you. A previous traumatic incident involving a fall or another accident may lead to barophobia. A mental health provider like a psychologist can use treatment like talk therapy and exposure therapy to help you overcome a fear of gravity.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 03/22/2022.

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