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What is Heliophobia?

written by: HeatherW • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 12/16/2010

Heliophobia is an intense fear of the sun that cannot be explained by rational means. Here we discuss the signs, symptoms, and treatments of this condition.

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    Introduction to Heliophobia

    The Sun 

    Heliophobia is an overwhelming, irrational fear of the sun. It is a problem that affects hundreds and possibly thousands of people, but unfortunately, one that lacks a great deal of research.

    For most people with this phobia, even the thought of going out in the sun is enough to bring on anxiety and panic. Not only are people with heliophobia afraid of the sun, but they may be scared of bright light as well. While no one can pinpoint the exact cause of this phobia, it is believed that as with all phobias, it starts with a trauma.

    With heliophobics that trauma does not have to have anything to do with the sun, but whatever it is the pain and suffering of the trauma are too frightening to be faced by the individual. Therefore, the effects of the trauma are placed on the sun, which to them, is less frightening than the actual trauma.

    To break this down further; many people who experience trauma transfer the fear of the trauma to something else so they do not have to expose themselves to the real fear that is bothering them.

    Having said all that, for others the trauma could be related to the sun, and that is why the person is now afraid of it.

    Fortunately, there are treatments for those who suffer from this phobia. Freedom from a phobia involves intense therapy, and ultimately facing the fear, so it takes time patience, and much courage on the part of the person suffering from the phobia.

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    Signs and Symptoms of Heliophobia

    How heliophobia affects people will vary from person to person. Symptoms can vary from slight nausea and perspiration to a full blown panic attack depending on the severity of the phobia.

    Signs and Symptoms of Heliophobia:

    • Dry mouth
    • Heart palpitations
    • Numbness
    • Heightened awareness
    • Shortness of breath
    • Dizziness
    • Muscle tension
    • Trembling
    • Hyperactivity
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Feeling out of control
    • Feeling trapped and unable to escape
    • Unexplained feeling of doom

    These are terrible things for the person with the phobia to go through, and what makes matters worse is that many times, friends and family cannot understand what is wrong with that person. The phobia seems so irrational, so out of bounds that it is hard for the phobic person to gain real support. This is why treatment is so important, especially in the form of therapy. The phobic person must have someone to talk to that has a listening and understanding ear so that they do not walk around feeling as if they are "crazy." Indeed, they are not. While the fear may seem irrational to everyone else, and even though the phobic person might know that as well, it is very real to them.

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    Treatment

    There are a variety of ways to treat heliophobia. Treatment options will have to be discussed with a physician and will have much to do with the scope and severity of the phobia

    Treatment Options For Heliophobia:

    • Traditional "talk" therapy - This is by far one of the best methods of treatment for someone suffering from a phobia. Often times, just knowing that someone understands and doesn't think they are crazy will put them that much further down the road to recovery. 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.
    • Support groups - Similar to talk therapy, support groups have the added value of giving the patient other people to talk to who are going through the same thing. In these 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.
    • Medication - 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.
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    In Closing

    Although fearing something that is ever present like the sun seems like a battle that can never be won, there is help available for those who suffer from the affects of heliophobia. With treatment, time and patience, this phobia can be controlled, and eventually mastered.

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    References

    1. Healthmad.com - http://healthmad.com/mental-health/heliophobia-the-fear-of-the-sun/
    2. Ivy Rose Holistic - http://www.ivy-rose.co.uk/References/glossary_entry823.htm
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    Photo Credit

    1. The sun - photobucket: Dream_Ste
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