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Auroraphobia: The Fear of Northern Lights

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Aurora, is also known as the northern lights, polar lights, and the southern lights. It is a phenomenon characterised by a display of bright colors on the sky, triggered by electrically charged solar particles.

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The colours appear as these particles bombard each other as they enter the earth’s atmosphere. These multicolor lights consisting of colors such as red, yellow, blue, pink, green, and violet, are seen dancing in patches, shooting rays, rippling curtains, arcs, etc.

On the northern and southern hemisphere of the earth. If you have seen pictures of the aurora or you have been opportune to watch the display physically, you would understand beauty.

However, it would interest you that something of great beauty which is capable even calming some individuals while they are at awe of the beauty their eyes see, is a source of distress, fear, and anxiety. This is called Auroraphobia.

Auroraphobia is the fear of aurora, including things relating to it. This condition can be so disturbing to the individual that it stirs up so many symptoms that can make the individual choose to avoid matters pertaining to aurora or aurora itself, causing the patient to limit himself or herself.

But then, the aurora may not be entirely avoidable to an individual, and the person would still be getting triggered consistently. Fortunately, this condition is treatable.

Causes of Auroraphobia

Generally, experts believe that phobias are a result of some factors which could trigger the development of the condition.

These factors are divided into two, and they are:

  • The intrinsic factors
  • The extrinsic factors

The intrinsic factors

These factors relate to the internal make-up of the individual, which may include:

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  • Heredity and genetics: It is believed that the genetic make-up of an individual is the cause of certain conditions such as; Sickle cell anemia, etc. Experts believe that if other conditions can be inherited from an ancestor who must have had it, then phobias specifically auroraphobia.
  • Presence of other phobias: The presence of other phobias can serve as a contributing factor to the development of Auroraphobia. A person who is afraid of the dark or spirits is most likely to develop this condition. Because aurora displays are most visible at nights and they are called the ‘’the dancing spirits’’ by some people.

The extrinsic factors

These are factors surrounding the individual that could be the cause of the development of the condition.

  • Trauma: Generally, it is believed that trauma is the common cause of phobias. A traumatic event can leave an indelible mental mark on the individual who can go a long way in denting the individual’s life. Auroraphobia is likely to develop after a traumatic experience with anything relating to the aurora.
  • Background upbringing: They say that the environment of an individual has a significant influence on the well-being, beliefs, and attitudes of the person. A child growing up in an environment that calls aurora ‘’ dancing spirits’’ or maybe has scary tales about the aurora and is most likely to develop auroraphobia. In addition to this, a child growing up with one or two family members suffering from this condition is expected to develop it too.

Experts suggest that the development of this condition may be a result of the combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors.

Symptoms of Auroraphobia

In phobias, symptoms experienced are different across individuals depending on the degree of fear that person possesses.

These symptoms can be life-limiting, disrupting the individual’s usual way of living as well as the person’s intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships.

These symptoms manifest in two forms – The physical and the psychological, proving that this condition affects both the physical and the mental well-being of an individual.

Physical Symptoms

People with Auroraphobia frequently have panic attacks when triggered. The panic attacks that they experience can be so frightening that it puts the sufferer in a state of distress.

Although sufferers have to be triggered before they experience some symptoms accompanying this condition, these symptoms can be experienced suddenly without any warning.

Panic attacks can be so overwhelming to an individual that they cause physical reactions such as:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Trembling
  • Hot flushes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • A choking sensation
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sharp chest pain
  • A feeling of butterflies in the stomach
  • Nausea
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Feeling faint
  • Nerve numbness
  • Dry mouth
  • A need to go to the toilet
  • Ringing or buzzing in ears
  • Confusion
  • Hyperventilation
  • Increase in blood pressure

Psychological Symptoms

In a handful of very serious cases, an individual may experience panic attacks triggered by Auroraphobia, most times when exposed to anything that can cause the individual to be triggered.

The following are symptoms that prove that Auroraphobia affects the psychological well-being of the patient:

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  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of fainting
  • Feelings of dread
  • Fear of death and dying
  • Fear of harm or illness
  • Guilt, shame, self-blame
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Feeling disconnected
  • Confusion, difficulty concentrating
  • Anger, irritability, mood swings
  • Anxiety and fear

However, in some rare cases, people have had what we call ‘’Complex phobias’’ which are like a chain of phobias linked together. This is life-limiting because it would make the individual not have the ability to live a normal life and maintain a healthy social life.

Once the person is triggered, he or she is bound to have the intertwine of the symptoms mentioned above with depression adding to the list.

Treatment of Auroraphobia

Auroraphobia

Like in many phobias, sufferers always feel the need to avoid encountering their source of fear so that they won’t be triggered, but sometimes, this is difficult and maybe impossible. Mind you that most times, you cannot escape your thoughts.

In treating Auroraphobia, Professional assistance is needed. A mental health worker may be able to help you overcome Auroraphobia.

According to experts, consulting a mental specialist working cooperatively with you may be a cure for most phobias. Still, there are no treatments available for them or has a guarantee that it will work. Majorly, it depends on the individual and how severe the condition is.

Talking Therapy for Auroraphobia

Talking therapy, including counseling could be useful in the treatment of Auroraphobia. This involves a professional therapist working closely with you to achieve the following aim:

  • Help you identify negative behavioral and thought and find ways to change them; that is if you want to.
  • Help you resolve complicated feelings, or adopt ways to live with them
  • Help you make sense of things and understand yourself better
  • Give you scheduled time and comfortable place to talk to someone who will not judge you

By just merely having to speak to your therapist about your thoughts, feelings, moods, and behavior towards aurora, session after session, you may achieve the above-listed aims.

(CBT) Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Experts suggest that our thoughts and perception have a substantial and constant influence on our behavior. The continuous experiences of anxiety, mental stress, and distress influence your perception and distort it over reality.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy helps you identify the negative thought patterns, anxiety, fear, and those unhelpful distorted perceptions you have of aurora and then equip you with strategies to help overcome them.

Medication

There are three major types of medicines recommended for the treatment of anxieties and anxiety disorders, and they include:

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  • Antidepressants
  • Tranquillizers
  • Beta-blockers

These drugs always have psychoactive effects on the people when taken. Although they are not the cure for phobias, they are administered for its calming effects, which can help control anxiety. They can be prescribed even on the course of therapies.

Note: These medicines are to be used when prescribed, and the instructions of the prescription should be followed strictly. Because your doctor has better knowledge of this, these medications are prescribed to be used short-term only because long-term use can result in substance use disorder, including Addiction and Dependence. Do not self-medicate.

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