Fear of the dark

Photo by Daniel Jensen on Unsplash

Most adults do not react to darkness in any way, perceiving it as part of the day. But some people may have extremely negative reactions to any darkroom.

What is the name of the fear of the dark
In scientific language, the fear of the dark is called nyctophobia or the even more exotic term Achluophobia. This is a strong and unmotivated fear of being in dark rooms even for a short time, fear of dark streets, unlit parks, etc.

In fact, this is not a fear of the darkness itself, but feelings about the fact that in the darkness dangers can lurk, horrifying pictures are drawn in the imagination, scenarios that are completely real for the person himself. In childhood, up to about 4-5 years, such fears are permissible, but in adults, this is a sign of problems.

Causes of fear of the dark in adults
Part of the fear of the dark can be explained by quite simple things – this is the “genetic memory” from previous generations associated with the night. At this time, predators hunt, and people are not protected in front of them. In addition, at night, a reasonable person is poorly oriented in the environment, his vision is not adapted. This creates anxiety and feelings of insecurity. Also, in the evening, the feeling of loneliness usually increases.
The phobic disorder can be triggered as early as childhood when certain events occur:

  • stresses associated with the dark time of day or in dark rooms (trauma, attack, severe fright) – childhood experiences are firmly imprinted in the psyche;
  • a highly developed imagination that draws frightening pictures of barely outlined silhouettes shadows from objects that the brain transforms into monsters and monsters;
  • long-term exhausting stresses – they especially strongly affect suspicious, impressionable people, danger begins to appear even where they are not;
  • lack of trace elements, vitamins, hormonal imbalance, due to which biochemical processes, hormonal levels suffer – this can lead to panic attacks, anxiety;
  • the fear of death can also provoke the fear of the dark since they are closely related in the subconscious.

Symptoms of fear of the dark in adults
It is quite possible to distinguish phobic manifestations from the usual sense of self-preservation, although even normal people may be wary of dark parks, basements, or unlit streets. But with ordinary fear, thoughts are rational, the reason is clear and actions are logical. And with nyctophobia, there is an irrational fear of the dark, panic, and a lot of somatic sensations. People with a phobia do not give an account of their actions, they run to bright, lighted areas. There are a number of manifestations typical of nyctophobia:

  • fear of the night, especially if a person is at home alone – such people sleep with a lamp or TV on;
  • frightening horror in front of any dark streets, parks that seem extremely dangerous in the head;
  • panic attacks, if the light in the room has turned off, you need to go into a dark room;
  • a constant feeling of despair and hopelessness, a sharp loss of control over oneself due to darkness;
  • rejection of the fact of phobia with attempts to rationalize it;
  • rituals to prevent imaginary threats in the dark, which are meticulously observed.

Changes in the body experienced by a person with nyctophobia:

  • rapid pulse, altered pressure;
  • muscle weakness, trembling hands, feet, and body;
  • headache;
  • breathing disorders, loss of voice, dry mouth;
  • cold clammy sweat;
  • stomach pain, nausea;
  • dizziness.

How to get rid of the fear of the dark for adults
Phobia can seriously complicate a person’s life, therefore, it must be dealt with in all possible ways, having previously determined an accurate diagnosis. This can be done by an experienced psychiatrist, who needs to be contacted and examined.

The basis of diagnostics is working with a psychiatrist. The doctor carefully examines the person, talking in detail about his family, lifestyle, and fear itself. This is necessary to confirm the diagnosis and identify additional health problems that may aggravate the situation. Anxiety and depression tests will also be done.

Modern methods of treatment
It is important to seek the help of a specialist. E / then can be a clinical psychologist (in mild cases), and in more serious disorders – a psychotherapist. Although there is a certain general algorithm for helping patients suffering from phobic disorders, the doctor chooses the approach to each patient individually. This is important because everyone has their own character and personality traits, peculiarities of upbringing, communication in society.

Therapy is conventionally divided into 2 parts:

  • work with emotions caused by phobia and thinking – the doctor examines with the patient various options for distortion of thinking associated with fear, teaches a person to work with his/her emotions, helps in the study of self-regulation techniques;
  • gradual contact with a traumatic, phobic situation (the so-called exposure) – this helps to develop tolerance to it (resistance to fear).

What are the complications of fear of the dark?
Phobia is not directly dangerous for life and physical health, but changes in behavior, social isolation, panic attacks, constant tension, and stress can lead to problems at work, in communicating with loved ones, and family.

Some strong fears can worsen general well-being, lead to increased blood pressure, palpitations, and sleep disorders.


8 thoughts on “Fear of the dark”

  1. 👌👌👌✒😘 So I can’t connect with one diagnosis … I dedicated my life to the Dark Chamber🤭. Have a nice Sunday Nadiia🌞🌻🌞

  2. I don’t have a phobia about the dark (I have a couple of other phobias), but I often wake up in the dark feeling disoriented. So I appreciate your addressing that disorientation.

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