Are there any indications that Apollo astronauts took any medication to overcome conditions like fear or claustrophobia? Or did NASA rely purely on training to prepare the astronauts for situations in which average people might have simply freaked out?
From the Apollo Program Summary Report:
All missions used skin cream to treat irritation caused by the biosensors.
Apollo 7: All three crew members developed colds (which led to the infamous "mutiny"). All three were treated with aspirin and Actifed, and did not wear helmets during re-entry.
After the Commander's symptoms of motion sickness dissipated, he experienced symptoms of an inflight illness believed to be unrelated to motion sickness. When the Commander was unable to fall asleep 2 hours into his initial rest period, he took a sleeping tablet (Seconal) which induced approximately 5 hours of sleep, described as "fitful." Upon awakening, the Commander felt nauseated and had a moderate occipital headache. He took two aspirin tablets and then went from the sleep station to his couch to rest. The nausea, however, became progressively worse and he vomited twice. After termination of the first sleep period, the Commander also became aware of some increased gastrointestinal distress and was concerned that diarrhea might occur. No medication was taken for this illness, which was described as a "24-hour intestinal flu." (Just prior to launch, an epidemic of acute viral gastroenteritis lasting 24 hours was present in the Cape Kennedy area.)
Apollo 9: Prior to launch, all 3 astronauts developed colds, and the launch was postponed 3 days. During the mission, the Lunar Module Pilot developed motion sickness, vomited twice, and took Seconal several times for sleep.
Apollo 10: Aspirin was taken by the crewmen for intestinal gas. The problem was later traced to hydrogen bubbles in the drinking water.
Apollo 11: Armstrong and Aldrin each took one Lomotil tablet prior to landing on the lunar surface, to prevent bowel movements. All three took aspirin occasionally, and took scopolamine/dextroamphetamine for motion sickness prior to and after splashdown.
Apollo 12: All 3 crewmen occasionally took Actifed for nasal decongestion and aspirin. The Lunar Module Pilot also took Seconal to aid sleep.
Apollo 13: The Lunar Module Pilot took two aspirin for a headache, and later vomited. The Command Module Pilot took Lomotil (which I find odd, as Lomotil is for diarrhea, but he had a urinary tract infection). All three took scopolamine/dextroamphetamine for motion sickness prior to re-entry.
Apollo 14: The only medication used was nose drops for nasal stuffiness. I'm a little surprised that the guys on the moon didn't take something for anxiety:
The lunar module crewmen received little, if any, sleep between their two extravehicular activity periods. The lack of an adequate place to rest the head, discomfort of the pressure suit, and a 7-degree starboard list of the lunar module on the lunar terrain were believed responsible for the lack of sleep. The crewmen looked out the window several times during the sleep period for reassurance that the lunar module was not starting to tip over.
Apollo 15: After developing shoulder pain caused by deep core drilling, the Commander took 14 aspirin. The Command Module Pilot used nose drops prior to re-entry to avoid middle ear blockage.
Apollo 16: Prior to each of the three days on the moon, the Lunar Module pilot took one Seconal to get to sleep.
Apollo 17: This mission carried more medications that the others. All three crewmen used Seconal occasionally for sleep, and simethicone for flatulence caused by the drinking water bubbles. On day 2, the Commander substituted scopolamine/dextroamphetamine for simethicone when he could not locate the latter. The Command Module Pilot and Lunar Module Pilot each took a Lomotil after a loose bowel movement.
Therefore, Seconal would be the medicine of choice for anxiety, and was actually used several times as a sleep aid.
Fear and claustrophobia are not in-flight issues. From the very beginning of spaceflight, it was recognized that psychological factors would have to play an important role in astronaut selection:
But the critical elements in the selection, they believed, related more to the psychological than to the physical aspects of spaceflight, for “by far the greatest problem involves the implications of a seemingly complete break from the Earth and the protective societal matrix in a small, isolated, closely confined container with few companions.” An astronaut candidate, they believed, must “manifest intense motivation for the project,” have a strong ability to cooperate to the point that they could place trust and confidence in associates and win the trust and confidence of those associates.
And this screening continued throughout astronaut training:
- astronauts spend years training inside spacecraft mockups, any claustrophobia issues will have surfaced before flight.
- Fear is mitigated by training for every possible emergency. During launch, astronauts are calm because they know what to do if anything bad should happen (source: lecture by astronaut André Kuipers).
People who have fear and anxiety issues wash out during training, or conquer their fears.
Early astronauts were selected from the group of test pilots: people that were already selected for their ability to remain calm and function efficiently under stress.
As a result, the Apollo astronauts routinely showed heartrates that ware barely elevated, even in high-stress situations.
"Calm their nerves" is a rather vague term. Severe space motion sickness is a major factor in space flight, and can be completely debilitating. This is a form of nervous system over-activity. Many of the drugs used to treat it on the flight line are mild relaxants, and commonly deployed.
Good review of space motion sickness in Lackner, J.R. & DiZio, P. Exp Brain Res (2006) 175: 377. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-006-0697-y
OK review of treatments in Davis, et al., Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine [01 Mar 1993, 64(3 Pt 1):230-233]