Heliophobia is a problem that afflicts hundreds of people every year, but one that suffers from a lack of detailed research. Individuals who suffer from Heliophobia often present an exaggerated or irrational fear of sunlight or increased sensitivity to sunlight. For most individuals who suffer from Heliphobia, the thought of going out in the sun is enough to bring on feelings of anxiety and panic. Not only are people with heliophobia afraid of the sun, but they may be scared of bright light as well.
Symptoms of Heliophobia
The symptoms of Heliophobia vary from person to person. Some people, when confronted with their fear of the sun, may begin to perspire, feel slightly uncomfortable or become nauseated. Other symptoms of Heliophobia may include:
- Dry mouth
- Heart palpitations
- Heightened senses
- Feeling dizzy
- Muscle tension
- Rapid heartbeat
- Feeling out of control
- Feeling trapped and unable to escape
- Intense feeling of impending disaster
Causes of Heliophobia
As with all phobias, the person impacted by Heliophobia has usually suffered a trauma at some point in their life. Most often the traumatic experience is automatically and consistently associated with dangers of the sun. In some instances, the Heliophobic person may intensely fear skin cancer and feel that even the slightest exposure to the sun is extremely dangerous to their wellbeing. There is also a chance that a person suffering from Heliophobia may have has experienced severe sunburn in the past or perhaps the person has watched the negative and fearful reactions of others when confronted with exposure to the sun. In this example, the heliophobic individual would have learned to imitate the reactions of others.
Treatment of Heliophobia
Although the fear of something that is ever present like the sun may seem like a battle that can never be won, there is help available for those who suffer from the affects of Heliophobia. When the fear of the sun becomes intense enough to disrupt an individual’s ability to function on a daily basis, it may be time to seek out help.
The most common type of treatment is traditional one-on-one therapy with a psychologist. Patients who suffer from a phobia often find this kind of traditional treatment to be soothing as it helps to have someone who listens and understands. Once that kind of trust is established, the patient can then begin to explore what kind of trauma might be causing the fear of the sun, and at some point it can be faced. In addition, anti-anxiety medications and benzodiazepines are often prescribed in conjunction with psychotherapies to help the patient manage their fears. Many times, it is very difficult to get through therapy without the aid of some type of medication. Another form of treatment therapy includes support groups. Support groups have been proven to be highly affective because patients are able to talk with other individuals who are experiencing the same thing. In such groups, major recovery can take place, as stories are compared, and tips on how to deal with the phobia are shared amongst the group members.