The shrill ringing of your alarm clock in the morning normally wakes you up with a bit of a start. You may be confused and a bit dazed, but only for a few seconds. In the case of Ligyrophobia however, an alarm clock is the least concern.
Ligyrophobia, or the fear of loud noises, is a relatively rare phobia that causes the sufferer great discomfort when exposed to loud or shrill noises, especially when unanticipated. Sufferers will often experience some degree of anxiety, and will in some cases experience a full-blown panic attack.
Derived from the Greek word Ligyro, meaning sharp, Ligyrophobia mostly affects children, but the phobia can continue on into adulthood. Children as young as 1 year old have been known to be affected, but in adults and children alike, the phobia can become extremely debilitating.
CAUSES OF LIGYROPHOBIA
Many evolutionary psychologists believe Ligyrophobia is caused by an in-built fear of loud noises. Thousands of years ago when the environment was altogether more hostile for early humans, unexpected loud noises would have almost always signaled danger. Over the years, mankind developed survival instincts, including taking cover from loud noises.
In cases of Ligyrophobia, this in-built fear is more readily activated in certain individuals, who may then suffer a traumatic experience as a result. Negative past experiences involving loud noises can effectively mentally scar a young Ligyrophobe, resulting in the phobia staying with them into adulthood.
Ligyrophobia can often be connected to other physical and psychological conditions, such as hyperacusis or hypersensitive hearing. Both conditions result in an intolerance to loud noises, either at an environmental level, or at certain frequencies – as is commonly associated with autism.
An adrenal insufficiency may also have an impact. Unable to produce enough steroid hormones, individuals are unable to ‘snap out’ of the initial shock of hearing a loud noise.
SYMPTOMS OF LIGYROPHOBIA
Upon hearing a loud noise, sufferers tend to exhibit typical anxiety symptoms. Dizziness, nausea, increased heartbeat, profuse sweating and a desire to flee are frequently reported. In some cases, individuals may even faint. Children may cover their ears, cry and try to escape.
Sufferers anticipating loud noises can become extremely distressed and will often try to escape if possible. As an example, witnessing someone blowing up a balloon is a traumatic experience, as they anticipate the bang of the balloon bursting. They may exhibit heavy breathing and other anxiety symptoms during the anticipation.
As such, it’s not uncommon for sufferers to avoid loud noises at all costs. From avoiding loud events such as fireworks displays or concerts, to staying out of big cities or busy roads, if there’s a possibility of encountering loud noises, the situation must be avoided.
Adults may exhibit restlessness, distraction and even anger in noisy environments – such as offices, public transport and shops. In extreme cases, this can lead to avoiding leaving the house at all, which in turn can develop into more serious problems, such as Agoraphobia and depression.
Exposure Therapy works by gradually exposing the patient to loud noises – all within a controlled environment. With a trained professional, the patient learns various relaxation techniques they can use to combat anxiety. As they become increasingly used to loud noises, they learn how to remain calm, effectively removing the fear.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a less direct, but equally useful method. Using talk therapy, the patient is encouraged to discuss their fear. The therapist will then work on changing the negative associations with loud noises, replacing them with more positive thoughts. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) exercises can be used to the same effect.
Hypnotherapy can also be used to overcome Ligyrophobia, and also works on the principle of changing the way the patient perceives and deals with loud noises. Self-help audio files can be downloaded from the comfort of your home, though a visit to a trained professional is often more valuable.
Therapists can also advise on other conditions, such as hyperacusis and adrenal deficiencies, which when treated, can lead to a quicker recovery.
In today’s digital world, there are even apps or audio therapy sessions such as subliminals you can download to help rid you of your phobia.
BENEFITS OF OVERCOMING FEAR OF LOUD NOISES
We live in a noisy world, especially those who live in cities. Alarms, car horns, airplanes and sirens are just a few of the loud noises that can be heard on a daily basis. To live a life avoiding loud noises is to limit the options you have. Having overcome your fear of loud noises, you will find there is a wide world out there, that is ready to be explored.
Your work and social life will see a huge improvement as more opportunities present themselves. Things that may have been obstacles in the past, no longer prevent you from living life to the full.