Do you experience any of the following?
- Fear of flying
- Fear heights, enclosed spaces or wide open vistas
- Fear falling, especially on uneven surfaces
- Dislike bending upside down or having your head backward
- Dislike rapid, sudden or rotating movements
If so, think twice before you run to a psychiatrist to get Zoloft or Xanax. These space related fears are less likely to come from fearful thoughts running through your head than from hypersensitivity to movement or gravitational insecurity, a severe reaction to change in head position, especially sudden.
Gravitational insecurity results from an overloaded balance system (the vestibular system located in the inner ear) trying to process too many sensations at once and creates dizziness, vertigo, light-headedness, or nausea. It creates as well fear and anxiety as the slightest movement registers in the brain as “Falling!” Everyday activities like bending forward to change a sheet, bending backward to get your hair washed or turning your head while driving can feel traumatic. Unsteady on your feet, you are also accident prone, further increasing spatial insecurity and fear.
Such fears can start with or escalate to panic attack as vestibular dysfunction involves the same symptoms as panic attack:
- Floating sensations