Do You Fear Shadows?
Do you consciously look out for shadows? Would you rather stay home during the day than come across a shadow? Do you avoid dark but lit up rooms because you can’t stand the reflection of the objects on the wall?
Do you avoid night strolls in the park because moving shadows of trees make you feel uneasy?
Imagine being scared by shadows, including your own. Others might not understand how difficult it is to live with the constant fear of shadows. You might end up avoiding certain streets at night to avoid shadows.
What is it called when you are afraid of your own shadow? Sciophobia. But the existence of shadows means that you will have to establish a way to live with them. Begin by remembering shadows are harmless reflections of objects. You can overcome your fear if you try.
What is Sciophobia All About?
What is Sciophobia? Simply put, it is a fear of shadows. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-V, it is a specific phobia that falls under anxiety disorders.
Sciophobia covers any irrational fear of shadows, including your own. In most cases, Sciophobia develops when one is a child. In some cases, sufferers may overcome it as they grow up. Unfortunately, not everyone grows over sciophobia. Sciophobia can be so extreme that a mere thought of shadows can trigger extreme fear in individuals. A sufferer might know that the fear is irrational, but they are unable to control themselves even then. Now that you know of sciophobia, it begs the question what are some of the sciophobia causes? There are a few possible triggers we will now explore.
If there is a history of anxiety disorders in your family, you are highly likely to develop Sciophobia. You are also likely to develop other anxiety disorders. In your case, there has been a genetic predisposition, which makes everything worse. The fear may not be awakened until you are exposed to stimuli. Stimuli may include a specific trigger provoking fear of shadows, for instance, a scary movie about ghosts and shadows. If a parent has Sciophobia, they may pass it on to their child. A child may observe the parent running away from a shadow and instantly gather that the shadow is harmful.
Past Traumatic Experiences
Do you remember an event that changed your perception of shadows? Most phobias stem from a distressing past event. Like they say, once bitten, twice shy. With Sciophobia, a simple incident like watching a film, where a person was frightened or chased by a ghostly shadow, is enough trigger. Some people also see mysterious figures in their dreams. Films, books, and tales about ghosts can push you into perceiving ghostly shadows all over your space.
Your surroundings play a huge role in the type of person you are sculptured into. What did it make you believe about shadows? What tales are told in your culture about darkness, ghosts, and shadows? If you are afraid of the dark, you could be easily fearful of shadows.
Symptoms of Sciophobia
We’ll outline the possible signs of Sciophobia. Symptoms can be physical or psychological. To be diagnosed with Sciophobia, you should have most of the symptoms given below for a period not less than six months.
● Lack of logical reasoning
● Getting out of touch with reality
● Sudden intense fear when you see a shadow
● Wanting to run away from a shadow
● Uncontrolled intense emotions
● Sleeping difficulties
● Drowsiness during the day
● Full-blown panic attacks
● Increased heartbeat rate
● Short breath
● Shaking and trembling due to fear
● Dry mouth
● Intense headaches
● Avoiding dark places
● Asking someone to accompany you to places you would go alone, like the bathroom.
● Screaming when exposed to shadows
Self-help Tips to Treat Sciophobia
Sciophobia treatment is inevitable if you must live an average person’s everyday life. You can do what you can for yourself to begin with. These are tips you can try at home by yourself, or with the help of a close person.
Take Care of Yourself
Eat healthy food and live a healthy life. Try to be physically active every day and get enough rest. Try to avoid caffeine as it can worsen your fear. While trying to be healthy, your focus will be shifted to what is essential.
Talk to someone close to you, like a relative or a close friend. You don’t need to suffer alone. You can consider joining support groups with people going through the same thing as you. In the group, you will be free to speak since you will not fear being judged. You will also receive tips that could enable you to live and cope better.
Try Not To Avoid Situations
Let it register in your mind that your fear of shadows is irrational. Face your fears. Would you mind switching off the lights in your house and going to bed when it’s dark? Go out there when it’s dark and face that dull-looking figure in your own shadow. It cannot be easy at first. With time, you will be able to make progress.
Professional Treatment is Another Option
Professional treatment methods have to do with therapy. Let’s explore some of them.
Exposure therapy incorporates exposure. As the name suggests, you will be exposed to the very thing you dread, shadows in your case. In a safe environment, a therapist will walk you through stages of exposure. Step by step, day by day, you will eventually be able to face a shadowy figure no matter how gigantic. All the therapist will require from you is your cooperation and willing attitude.
Talk therapy is all about speaking your mind to a health professional. As you speak out, the therapist will gather the necessary information about where your anxiety stemmed from. They will also collect information about what you dread. Using this information, the therapist will guide you through recovery. If your fear is severe, the therapist will know and guide you necessarily.
Medication is effective in treating the physical symptoms that sciophobia causes. In about two weeks, you should see progress in your health.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
MBSR is an 8-week program. The program, which also includes group sessions, is all about meditation. In mindfulness meditation, a sufferer is required to focus on something completely different from their fear. The whole purpose is to distract the person. For instance, you will be required to take tea and concentrate on its smell and taste. The therapist will then require you to describe the feelings. While you focus on things that are different from what you fear, you build up some capacity to ignore the fear. If a fear can be ignored, it is good to be forgotten.
How to Avoid Sciophobia Altogether
Some phobias and fears have some degree of rationality in them. For example, consider the fear of death or the fear of poison. While you can be poisoned, death is inevitable. Similarly, trying to reason with yourself that shadows will never cause you any harm can help you cope with its fear. Sciophobia disease cannot impact you if you don’t allow it to affect your rationality.
Overcoming Sciophobia is Possible
People with Sciophobia tend to fear shadows because they appear more extensive than actual objects. If you let the fact that shadows are harmless sink in, your recovery journey will have begun. Combine several treatment methods as long as you recover. Do not self-medicate. Let a doctor guide you to a life without the fear of shadows.