The addiction to tanning is probably one of the weirder addictions out there – but it is a very serious condition which is known among the medical community as tanorexia.
Quick Tanning Addiction Self-Test
This of course can’t be seen as a diagnosis, but it’s a quick way to assess whether you’re at risk of having a tanning addiction. Simply answer these 4 questions honestly:
- Have you ever felt you needed to cut down on your tanning?
- Have people annoyed you by criticizing your tanning?
- Have you ever felt guilty about tanning?
- Have you ever felt you needed to tan first thing in the morning — as an eye opener?
If you answered one or more of these questions with yes, there’s is a high chance that your tanning habits have gotten out of control.
Is Tanorexia a Real Addiction?
To many people the idea of being addicted to tanning seems so strange that they think it’s more of a quirk than a real addiction. But scientific research has shown that it really does qualify as a real addiction. Biochemical evidence indicates that during tanning, certain opioids are released – and it is this opioid release that some people get hooked on.
In the year 2006 there was a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology that examined what happened when frequent tanners took the endorphin blocker naltrexone.
They experienced severe withdrawal symptoms (which was not the case for non-frequent tanners).
There are some people who go sunbathing or lay down in a tanning bed even 20 times per month – every dermatologist will tell you that this is highly excessive and dangerous.
In the USA alone, the indoor tanning industry is a multi-billion dollar business.
However, we can’t really lay the blame on these corporations – it’s not their advertisements that are responsible for excessive tanning habits.
Dr. Richard F. Wagner Junior, a leading dermatologist at the University of Texas, reported that many regular tanners meet all the criteria of substance abuse.
Dr. Robin L. Hornung and Solmaz Poorsattar of the University of Washington wrote in The Skin Cancer Foundation Journal that “tanners also report mood enhancement, relaxation and socialization” as reasons why they tan themselves. Dr. Hornung stated that frequent tanners show signs of both physiological and psychological dependence.
How Tanning Addicts See Themselves
People can get addicted to sun bathing or other tanning methods (such as tanning beds or tanning creams).They actually do perceive themselves as being too pale – the same way an anorexic person perceives herself as being to fat.
It’s a distorted self image, and sometimes even a case of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). This means that they are extremely and compulsive critic about their own appearance.
Do Tanning Addicts Realize They Have A Problem?
Oftentimes tanning addicts even want to stop their intense tanning habits – but it’s gotten out of control. They feel subconsciously compelled to tan themselves again and again.
This can sometimes lead to a quite paradox situation where a person has the insight and accepts on a conscious level that their tanning has gotten out of control and is harming them, but they still can’t help it. Some people also don’t even recognize that they have a problem at all.
People who suffer from an addiction to tanning can often get extremely anxious when they missed a tanning session. They also sometimes feel that they have to keep up with other tanning addicts and can get quite competitive about it – it can almost turn into a contest of “who has the darkest skin”. They also feel frustrated about their own skin tan much of the time because they think it is “too pale”.
Tanning addiction is a particularly serious problem for young adults, because they are much more vulnerable to the long-term risks like skin cancer.
In the year 2010 approximately 3.5 million (!) people got diagnosed with skin cancer. Tendency rising.
And skin cancer is not the only problem – there are many other kinds of disfiguring skin damages that can be caused by excessive tanning. UV radiation can cause mutations in the DNA of skin cells – the more often you expose yourself to UV light, the higher your risk of skin cell mutations that will cause skin diseases or even cancer.
It also accelerates the aging process – the addiction to tanning leads to much faster aging of the skin. Even people in their thirties can have wrinkly, leathery and loose skin that makes them look like they’re ten to fifteen years older.
Hypnosis is a very effective method to overcome your tanning addiction, particularly because it is able to adjust subconscious believes and make the way you perceive yourself more realistic.