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Very specific, powerful reaction to sirens/alarms (not loud)



New member
Nov 27, 2019
BC, Canada
I've had this for as long as I can remember, and I don't know if I'd categorise it as a -phobia, or what exactly constitutes as one. I've done a bit of research, but I can only find fears related to loud or sudden noises (basically the definition of an alarm), but that's not what this is.

Whenever I hear a warning siren of any kind go off, even if I only think about one, I instantly get mega-light-headed, well up, every hair stands on end and my eyes pour to the point where I can't see. This most often happens when WEA tests (the "this is an emergency test" messages come up every now and then on your phone - as soon as I hear the buzz siren and see the capital letters in the message message, I become almost completely incapacitated. Even thinking about thinking about it right now made happen. It happened once while I was driving and I had to instantly pull over and wait at least 10 minutes for my brain to get back to normal and so that I could see.

I find this really, really odd, because I don't suffer from any similar mental issues, don't deal with an overt amount of stress and don't get panic attacks at all outside of this, if that's even what this is or what a panic attack is. I've tried my best to related it to specific cases of trauma, but these mundane ones are the only ones I can come up with that had anything to do with alarms:

- When I was 3 or 4 and we were in a motel with one of those ceiling light-fans, it fell and landed on me, shattering and setting off the fire alarm. I have excellent recollection of my early years, and don't recall even acknowledging that the situation was scary or dangerous when it happened.

- 9/11? I'm being honest - I vividly remember seeing the live news broadcast when I was in first grade, and ever since, I've been morbidly fascinated by those emergency alerts that can hijack you from anywhere. But again, no traceable fear or anything that extreme, and I wasn't trauamatised by it in the moment because I didn't fully understand.

Any kind of tornado or evacuation siren gives a me the same feeling, which I guess is implication of a larger-than-life threat, but it has to come from a "warning" - reading about nuclear war and natural disasters doesn't bother me at all. I've never lived in a disaster zone or been through anything of the sort myself either. I've been in a couple of heated life-or-death situations before, but again, I have a very different reaction.

I don't know what the feeling is, because I can't discern any motivation in my head when it's going on - no overt terror, no feeling of helplessness, no negative thoughts whatsoever (the only thing I'm thinking is "oh huh whoa here we go again").

This doesn't apply to things like ambulance and police sirens - I hear them going by daily outside so it's background noise. Beeping house fire alarms and the large red ones don't bother me - it needs to have some kind of movement or rhythm to it, like gradual oscillation of an evac siren or a repeated sequence.

Since I'm not that knowledgeable on this kind of stuff, I'm just beyond confused as to how something so random (to me!) can physically incapacitate me on a dime like that, when absolutely nothing else I can think of can in that way. Would this be a "-phobia"? Something closer to PTSD wherein I somehow have zero knowledge of the T? Do a lot of people have things like this?