Heliophobia: the Fear of the Sun

I discuss the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this phobia.

Heliophobia is an overwhelming, irrational fear of the sun or exposure to the sun. The heliophobic individual may also be fearful of any bright light. People coping with this phobia may cover themselves completely prior to going outside or in extreme cases of Heliophobia, will avoid going outside at all.

Heliophobia is derived from the Greek word “helios”, meaning sun and “phobos” meaning fear.

What Causes Heliophobia?

As with all phobias, the person impacted by Heliophobia has suffered a trauma at some time in their life. That traumatic experience is then automatically and consistently associated with the sun.

Perhaps the heliophobic person intensely fears skin cancer and feels that even the slightest exposure to the sun is extremely dangerous. This person may actually have an underlying, undiagnosed medical condition that causes hypersensitivity to the sun. Maybe the person suffering with Heliophobia has experienced severe sunburn in the past. Perhaps the person 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.

What Are the Symptoms of Heliophobia?

The symptoms of Heliophobia are individual and will vary among people. Some people, when confronted with their fear of the sun, may begin to perspire, feel slightly uncomfortable or become nauseated. At the opposite end of the spectrum, other people are so severely compromised by this phobia, that they may experience crippling anxiety and/or panic attacks.

Other symptoms of Heliophobia may include:

* A Dry Mouth

* Heart Palpitations

* Numbness

* Heightened Senses

* Breathlessness

* Feeling Dizzy

* Muscle Tension

* Hyperventilation

* Trembling

* Rapid Heartbeat

* Feeling Out of Control

* Feeling Trapped and Unable to Escape

* Intense Feeling of Impending Disaster

How Is Heliophobia Diagnosed?

The vast majority of cases of Heliophobia are self-diagnosed. The individual realizes that their fear of the sun is irrational and is severely compromising their ability to function on a daily basis.

The heliophobic person may discuss their phobia with the primary physician. Rarely would the doctor diagnosis Heliophobia based on that initial discussion with the patient. More routinely, after ruling out any medical reason for this phobia, the doctor will refer the person to a mental health professional for comprehensive assessment and evaluation.

How Is Heliophobia Treated?

When the fear of the sun becomes intense enough to disrupt an individual’s ability to function, there are a number of ways to treat Heliophobia.

These can include:

* A referral from the primary physician to a therapist who specializes in the treatment of phobias.

* Traditional “talk” therapy that will teach the person to recognize and control their phobia.

* Hypnotherapy.

* Exposure Therapy.

* Self-help techniques such as purposeful muscle relaxation.

* Support groups with other people who are coping with this specific phobia.

* Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Desensitization Therapy.

* Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and visualization.

* In severe cases of Heliophobia, anti-anxiety medication can be prescribed.

Heliophobia is an intense, irrational fear of the sun. Sometimes that fear can become so overwhelming as to completely halt a person’s ability to function on a daily basis. Unchecked, Heliophobia can become a debilitating condition that interferes with an individual’s personal life, their social life and job responsibilities. Untreated, Heliophobia can have a devastating impact on every aspect of a person’s life.

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  1. u should find out how many names heliophobia has and what r they

  2. Does anyone know how many people suffer from this phobia? I suffer from it and I don’t know anyone else and have never heard of anyone else who has.

  3. i have a good friend and this phobia has halted their life. It seems that no-one comprehends how disabelitating it is and she is not takeb seriously when she seeks out help.

  4. Lyn, I relate to your post, as I too have what other’s would call “severe” heliophibia. Honestly, even the thought of sun on my skin is something my mind cringes away from. So as you can guess, I only go out when the sun is going down. I just wish things didn’t close so early, and that the night was safer. I also wish there weren’t so many day-time-only events.
    I’d love to know how many others with this phobia are out there. Perhaps we just need more nocturnal towns around.

  5. hello everyone

    I live in Australia and have relatively pale/fair skin. As you can imagine in Australia living with such a phobia can be very tough!

    I used to love going down to the beach, spending time out in the sun but now it has got to a point I dont go outside and even the thought of sunlight coming through the window makes ne extremely anxious. It is a debilitating condition to the point if friends want to meet up during the day but because of the sun I will make excuses as to why I cant go.

    let us know your thoughts

  6. My situation is pretty similar to the guy Kevin above. But the difference is that I live in Brazil instead of Australia, that means that the sun rays are strong here too.

    The thing is that I used to love going to beaches and surfing since I was a child but now it looks like I hate the sun somehow. I try to avoid it in many different ways. I don’t like to stay next to opened window and I feel much more relief at night.

    Maybe I used to stay too much on the sun before and now I regret. I don’t know if the key for this problem is on the way I could balance the situation now, like NOT too much sun exposure and NOT too less sun exposure.

  7. Hi I also have a similar case to the two guys above. I too used to spend a lot of time in the sun but now I am paranoid about going outside because I might get sunburnt and it has been getting worse. I can spend some time in the sun but I will never leave the house without wearing sunscreen. I find it difficult when friends want to socialize during the day at a picnic or play sport and I usually make an excuse, if I go I usually feel anxious the entire time.

    I think it has arose out of getting sunburnt as a child and then the constant campaigns recently to reduce skin cancer by showing graphic images of skin cancer, similar to those on cigarette packets. Now I feel that the only way to make up for my younger days is to go the opposite way and avoid the sun at all cost.

    I know that it is mainly in my head as I see everyone else outside enjoying themselves so I try and rationalise it to myself but it is emotionally exhausting sometimes.

  8. I do not have heliophobia, but i am doing a research paper on it. if you guys have any websites that would give me more info, please post it. i will check back in a couple days. Thanks!

  9. hey none ya your a fag

  10. I have this phobia. I don’t want to be cured. I don’t want to be in the sun. I can’t. I’ll die.

  11. Do you realy feel more comfortable in your current situation? You have no desire to get help for this phobia?

  12. Sha, I don’t think that Em is comfortable and doesn’t want help. My opinion is that Em’s comment painfully & clearly illustrates just how consuming any phobia is.

  13. I’ve had Heliophobia for the past year now and it really does consume your life, especially whilst you’re in an Australian highschool – you have to keep making excuses why you can’t go out for sports, and when you tell people the truth they think you’re just being ’stupid’ or ‘attention-seeking’ but they don’t seem to register that some people have panic attacks when confronted with the sun. If only people could be a little more empathetic.

  14. I had skin cancer. After they carved my nose up. I swore that i will never go in the sun again. I am borderline poor and going outside in summer was one of the few fun things i could do. now i go to work and come home and hide in my apt. nobody is going to cut my face up again.

  15. I am terribly afraid of the idea that I could get wrinkles and sunspots in the future, I am also scared of getting tanned – which is the major reason why I don’t expose myself to the sunlight. My family calls me a vampire, they haven’t got the faintest idea that this is a very serious phobia. A good tip for people who have Heliophobia to feel more comfortable in their own home is to tape the windows with aluminium foil (in hopes of blocking the sun and making it cooler and darker indoors).

  16. What is the opposite of Heliophobia? I’m trying to think of the word for love being in the sun. Help me? :D

  17. Anthony, the opposite of Heliophobia is Tanorexia. ;)

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