Selenophobia (Fear of the Moon)

Selenophobia is an intense fear of the moon. People who fear the moon may close curtains, avoid looking at the sky or refuse to go outside at nighttime. These symptoms may worsen during a full moon. Treatments such as exposure therapy can help people overcome phobia symptoms.

Overview

What is selenophobia?

Selenophobia (suh-LEEN-o-foe-bee-uh) is an intense fear of the moon or moonlight. It’s a specific phobia. These phobias are very intense fears of something that doesn’t pose a real threat. Another name for selenophobia is lunaphobia.

People with selenophobia may feel anxious or distressed when thinking about the moon. They may avoid looking at the moon or going out at night. They may even suffer panic attacks (sudden, intense anxiety that causes physical symptoms).

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Who might get selenophobia?

Like other specific phobias, traumatic experiences and genetics can increase your risk of developing selenophobia. Some people are afraid of the moon only. Others also have symptoms of:

  • Astrophobia (fear of outer space).
  • Nyctophobia (fear of the dark).
  • Samhainophobia (fear of Halloween).
  • Sanguivoriphobia (fear of vampires).

How common is a fear of the moon?

Specific phobias are somewhat common. About 12.5% of adults in the United States have a specific phobia in their lifetime. Experts don’t know exactly how many people have selenophobia, but a fear of the moon is one of the less common specific phobias.

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Symptoms and Causes

What causes selenophobia?

Often, people don’t know exactly what causes selenophobia. The anxiety sometimes stems from superstitions about the moon. For example, a child may read about werewolves coming out during a full moon.

Some people may link selenophobia to a traumatic childhood event that happened under moonlight or during a full moon. You may also be more likely to develop selenophobia if you have a parent or family member who’s afraid of the moon.

What are the symptoms of selenophobia?

The primary symptom of selenophobia is an overwhelming fear of the moon or moonlight. Many people have worsening symptoms during a full moon.

Selenophobia can cause physical symptoms such as:

People with selenophobia might also:

  • Close windows and blinds to avoid seeing the moon.
  • Obsess over an upcoming full moon.
  • Refuse to go outside at night or attend social events during a full moon.
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Diagnosis and Tests

How is selenophobia diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider may ask you questions to determine if your fear of the moon is a specific phobia, including:

  • What symptoms you experience.
  • If symptoms have lasted six months or longer.
  • If symptoms interfere with your daily life or relationships.
  • Whether you go out of your way to avoid seeing the moon.

Your healthcare provider may also ask questions to determine if you have another anxiety disorder. People with specific phobias may have other mental health conditions such as:

Management and Treatment

How is selenophobia treated?

The goal of selenophobia treatment is to help you live a higher quality of life without disruptions. You might try:

  • Exposure therapy: Up to 9 out of 10 people who consistently do exposure therapy have a decrease in symptoms. Exposure therapy is the only phobia treatment that many people need. It involves gradually introducing a specific fear into your life. First, you may look at pictures of the moon or imagine going outside during a full moon. Eventually, you may look at the moon itself or go out when you can see the moon.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Sometimes called talk therapy, CBT involves speaking with a therapist. Your therapist helps you identify which of your thoughts aren't serving you well. Then, they teach you to replace those thoughts with more positive ones. CBT can help people who’ve had traumatic experiences that lead to a phobia.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR may help if selenophobia stems from trauma. During EMDR, you focus on a difficult memory while being stimulated by specific rhythmic movements. You may be able to process traumatic memories without being overwhelmed by them.
  • Medication: Prescriptions may be particularly useful if you have another mental health diagnosis, such as anxiety or depression. For example, you may take alprazolam (Xanax®) or diazepam (Valium®) before nighttime events. These medications may help you manage symptoms to avoid panic attacks.

Prevention

How can I prevent a fear of the moon?

There isn’t a guaranteed way to prevent selenophobia. But you may lessen the frequency or intensity of symptoms by living a healthy lifestyle, such as:

  • Eat a nutritious diet of whole grains, lean protein, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats.
  • Manage any mental health conditions, such as OCD or PTSD, under the care of a trusted provider.
  • Sleep a minimum of seven to eight hours each night.
  • Talk to a therapist or trusted loved ones regularly to prevent social isolation.

Outlook / Prognosis

Are there long-term effects from selenophobia?

Many people who receive treatment overcome a fear of the moon. Others manage symptoms long-term. Most people find that, with treatment, they experience fewer disruptions to their everyday lives.

Without treatment, a specific phobia can increase your risks for:

  • Mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
  • Social withdrawal or isolation.
  • Substance misuse, including drugs and alcohol.

Living With

How can I best learn to cope with a fear of the moon?

Many people experience fewer and less frequent symptoms with proper phobia treatment. If you continue having anxiety symptoms or panic attacks, you might also learn coping strategies to help you manage symptoms, including:

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Selenophobia is an intense fear of the moon. For some people, the phobia links to a fear of the dark or outer space. Fear of the moon may also stem from superstitions and folklore about the full moon. People with selenophobia may close blinds, refuse to look out windows or go to extreme lengths to avoid leaving the house at night. With treatment, many people overcome selenophobia symptoms.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/30/2022.

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