What Is it Called When You Have a Fear of the Dark?

Reviewed on 6/3/2021

An extreme fear of the dark is called nyctophobia. The affected person may have an unreasonable concern of darkness and dark places.
An extreme fear of the dark is called nyctophobia. The affected person may have an unreasonable concern of darkness and dark places.

An extreme fear of the dark is called nyctophobia. The affected person may have an unreasonable concern of darkness and dark places. Although several people, especially children, may feel uncomfortable in the dark or at night when alone, nyctophobia is far more than that.

  • If you find that this fear of the night persists long after you should’ve grown past it, it may be a sign that you suffer from a phobia of the dark.
  • In simple terms, fear becomes a phobia when the terror you experience is so extreme that it detrimentally affects your life.
  • Your phobia could make you afraid to perform certain tasks or become overly anxious when visiting certain places. A phobia of the dark is no different.
  • Nyctophobia may cause you to have an irrational fear of the night, which may lead you to purposefully avoid outings with friends or loved ones after the sun goes or even sleep with all your lights on at night.
  • These extremely avoidant and otherwise irrational behaviors will only continue to grow worse if you refuse to seek treatment.
  • Nyctophobia is mostly found in young children. Because children are still developing and learning about the world around them, there is still a great deal they do not understand.

Nyctophobia, fear of darkness, is an often unspoken disease. Nyctophobia has many names including achluophobia, lygophobia and scotophobia. Most people who have these phobias do not talk about them either due to embarrassment or that just talking about the dark is upsetting to them. For some, fearing darkness dictates how they live their lives.

What are the common causes of nyctophobia?

The causes and roots behind a fear of the dark could be evolutionary by nature because of the number of predators that hunt during the nighttime. Likely, the fear is not linked to the dark itself but the potential negative scenarios that could occur in the dark. In the dark, there is an absence of security and safety and as your eyes are not as active, your other senses become more attuned. If someone cannot see movements around them, they are more likely to experience extreme fear as a result. Being in the dark compromises your brains’ ability to comprehend the other senses they are experiencing and this could be a strong agent behind nyctophobia. It makes a lot of sense where the fear originates from. The questioning lies in why it perpetuates past childhood for some. Common causes of nyctophobia may include

  • A distressed caregiver. Some youngsters are afraid of seeing a parent's anxiety over particular issues.
  • An overprotective caregiver. Some may establish generalized anxiety if they're dependent on a parent or caregiver or if they feel helpless.
  • Difficult events such as an injury or an automobile crash may also make a person more likely to become anxious.
  • Some adults, as well as kids, are just more vulnerable to worrying, perhaps because of their genes.

What are the treatment options for nyctophobia?

Treatment of nyctophobia can differ from one person to another. For some, cognitive behavioral therapy can provide assistance, whereas for others, medication can be helpful. Moreover, the treatment depends on the severity of the person’s medical health.

Exposure therapy

  • It is a common treatment option where the person is exposed to certain events that can successfully help them cope with their phobias.
  • There may be little risk linked with this therapy; hence, it is not for everyone.
  • Therefore, discussing your condition with a doctor is a key factor to determine the right type of treatment.

Meditation

  • Taking deep breaths and relaxing the body can be of great help while dealing with any type of phobia.
  • This can help calm the mind of the person and, at the same time, eases stress and worry.

Cognitive therapy

  • Cognitive therapy is usually used in combination with exposure therapy.
  • However, this also depends on the severity of the person’s condition.
  • The therapy uses various types of facts and information to overcome fear. However, this must always be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional to have a positive impact.

Phobia of the dark can be rather debilitating. Darkness is not something you can easily escape after all. Still, once you recognize that your fear of the night is a problem, this phobia, much like any other, is easily treatable if you allow yourself to seek help.

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