(Also known as Achluophobia, Lygophobia, Scotophobia)
Usually people are able to get over their fear of the dark sometime in the first decade of their life, either by using nightlights or being filled with a sense of invincibility as kids often are. For others, it is not what is hiding in the dark that they fear, but the dark itself. Nyctophobia, fear of darkness, is an unspoken disease. Nyctophobia has many names, including Achluophobia, Lygophobia and Scotophobia. Most people who suffer from it do not talk about it, either from embarrassment or just the fact of talking about the dark is upsetting to them. For some, fearing darkness dictates how they live their lives.
A phobia of the dark can manifest itself in several different ways: by avoiding dark places, carrying an excessive amount of lights or leaving the lights on when unnecessary. There are also physical symptoms of a nyctophobia attack.
Symptoms of Nyctophobia
Symptoms that a person has nyctophobia include:
- Panic attack
- Shortness of breath
- Accelerated heart rate
- Chest pain
Causes of Nyctophobia
There can be several reasons for a continued fear of the dark past childhood. For:* instance, fear of the dark could be perpetuated by a tragic or intense life experience. It can also be an expression of a deeper underlying fear. For whatever reason, there is no reason to continue the fight against the fear alone. While some people can get by their phobias easily, others can benefit greatly from a professional and social support system.
There are certain signs that signal the need for professional help when suffering from nyctophobia. For instance, the fear of darkness takes over and one finds themselves suffering from physical symptoms when confronted with darkness. It is important to seek help if one recognizes that the fear is taking over their daily routine or is causing stress on family and friends. Letting a phobia dictate the places you go, or if it has persisted over a significant length of time, indicates that seeking help from a professional may be necessary.
Treatment of Nyctophobia
Fear of the dark can be surpassed. A popular and effective treatment for darkness fear is cognitive-behavioral therapy, more commonly known as exposure therapy. This, in combination of medications to treat the worst of the phobia symptoms such as panic attack and migraines, can help someone overcome nyctophobia. Over short to long periods of time, depending on the severity of the case, therapy can help people who are scared at the thought of darkness.
People with phobias need to learn self-help methods to deal with the worst of the symptoms. Getting informed about the phobia is the first step in overcoming the fear. Learning to keep negative thoughts at bay is also helpful. Lastly, practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga and muscle relaxation can help you deal with the emotional and physical symptoms of a severe phobia of the dark.
Nyctophobia treatment professionals are out there to help one deal with their worst fear. Getting informed is the first step, next it is important to find a professional who knows how to lead you down the path of recovery.
- Phobics-Awareness.org – General information on phobias and treatments
- Helpguide.org – Physical symptoms of phobia attacks
- Sleepdisordersguide.com – Information on sleep deprivation related to nyctophobia