3 years ago

As the Bay Area in California rattles from a magnitude 4.5 earthquake, Top10MD takes a look at seismophobia.

Let’s get real, everyone is scared of earthquakes to some degree – and for good reason. Earthquakes have been the cause of chaos and destruction across the globe for centuries. They have been responsible for literally thousands upon thousands of deaths.

You probably remember the terrifying 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami of 2011 that leveled northeastern Japan and caused the worst nuclear power disaster of our time. The word Fukushima still gives me chills.

One of the deadliest earthquakes was an 8.0 earthquake that hit China’s Shaanxi province in 1956 with a staggering death toll of 830,000. That’s basically like wiping out the entire population of San Francisco which is the 14th most populated city in the US.

The largest on record in the United States was a 9.2 magnitude quake that struck Prince William Sound, Alaska in 1964.

Worst Places to Live If You Are Scared of Earthquakes

If you fear earthquakes you probably don’t want to live anywhere near Southern California where approx. 10,000 earthquakes occur every year according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

Basically, anywhere along The Ring of Fire is out. The Ring of Fire is a thread of volcanos and mountain ranges along the edges of the Pacific Ocean, also known as the Pacific Rim, where 90% of the world’s earthquakes and seismic activity happens. This includes the entire coast of Alaska and California.

Nowhere is safe. The Earth’s crust is unpredictable and earthquakes can strike anywhere — even in Texas. North Texas experienced a small cluster of 1.6-3.5 magnitude quakes in 2015. Barely a blip on the Richter scale, but goes to show you seismic activity can happen outside of The Ring of Fire too.

Do You Have Seismophobia?

earthquake-fear-seismophobia-psychiatry-psychiatrists-top10mdEarthquakes can be horrible, deadly and cause insurmountable amounts damage and destruction, but the odds of actually dying by an earthquake are quite rare. In fact, you are far more likely to die of heart disease, cancer or in a car accident than a killer quake. Death by lightning is even more probable than death by an earthquake.

Surprisingly, there are a number of people who suffer from a fear of earthquakes. It’s a condition known as Seismophobia. Every case is a little different and symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Seismophobia can cause intense anxiety, panic attacks, and unreasonable fear.

Symptoms include:

  • Abnormal behavior
  • Confusion
  • Constant worrying
  • Crying
  • Clammy hands
  • Heart palpitations
  • Intense fear
  • Muscle tension or weakness
  • Sweating

For some people, even a small tremor or rumbling sound from a truck roaring by can trigger an immediate seismophobic response.

Seismophobia is an example of a specific phobia or simple phobia caused by a specific object. A more common example of a specific phobia is Arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, or Claustrophobia, a fear of enclosed spaces. It’s not uncommon for a person to suffer from more than one specific phobia.

Phobias can destroy your quality of life. If this sounds like you, perhaps it’s time to see a Psychiatrist to help shatter your fear of earthquakes today.

Schedule an appointment with a Dallas-Fort Worth Psychiatrist today.


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