Some kids are highly fearful of darkness. Today, we’ll discuss what is nyctophobia; its symptoms, causes, and treatment.
What is Nyctophobia?
Nyctophobia is a form of specific phobia comprised of a high level of fear of the dark. It could impact people of all ages, but it is very common among children. People with the nyctophobic condition are highly fearful of being alone at night or in the dark. The dark places would cause a high level of anxiety, and it’s difficult for them to sleep in the dark.
Fear of the dark also goes by the name of lygophobia or scotophobia. If left untreated, people with the nyctophobic condition would avoid any type of situation and space that doesn’t have sufficient life. They would stay indoors and inside the house at night, and avoid all types of social gatherings that comprise going outside in the dark.
It’s difficult for people with nyctophobic conditions to fall into sleep, and it results in the form of insomnia and fatigue during the day. That’s why it’s troubling to keep one job. Different types of therapeutic treatment would help people with the nyctophobic condition to deal with its symptoms.
Symptoms of Nyctophobia
The signs of the nyctophobic condition are very much similar to the other types of specific phobias. People with a specific phobia of darkness experience an extreme level of fear when they’re in dark. The signs would disturb their performance at work, school, or other routine activities.
Different types of specific phobias exhibit different forms of symptoms, and they could be emotional or physical. In a nyctophobic condition, darkness would trigger the symptoms, or even thinking about darkness would cause you a lot of stress. Some of the main physical symptoms are as follows;
- Cold or hot flashes
- Upset stomach
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Tingling sensation, trembling or shaking
- Pain or chest tightness
- Speedy heart rate
- Trouble breathing
Some of the main emotional symptoms are as follows;
- Powerless feelings over your fear
- Feels like you would lose consciousness or die
- Feeling crazy or losing control
- Unreal feelings or detaching from self
- High urge to leave the particular situation or circumstances
- Panic and anxiety feelings
Fear of dark or nyctophobic conditions is common among children of aging ranging from 3 to 6 years old. It is normal for kids to have fear of darkness and other fears like;
- Strange noises
- Sleeping alone
It’s helpful for kids to go to sleep with a nightlight until they grow and overcome the fear of darkness. When it becomes nearly impossible for them to go to sleep, then it causes severe anxiety attacks and continues to do so in their adulthood.
- Genetics: some kids and adults are more vulnerable to developing a fear of darkness because of having specific kinds of genes
- Stressful Event: traumatic events like injury or motor vehicle accidents would expose a person to developing fear
- Overprotective Caregiver: some kids overly rely on their parents and caregivers and they would feel helpless, and they would develop generalized anxiety
- Anxious Caregiver: some kids learn about the anxiety of their parents and caregiver over any type of particular issue
Nyctophobia & Sleep Disorder
Nyctophobia has got linked to and associated with a sleeping disorder like insomnia. A study conducted on college students with insomnia condition, it showed that roundabout half of the students have had the fear of darkness.
The researchers measured the responses of the students relevant to noises both in darkness and light. The noises in the dark easily startled those students that had been facing sleeping issues. In fact, the good sleepers got used to the noises with the passage of time. The students with insomnia condition became anticipatory and anxious with the passage of time.
Causes of Nyctophobia
Many researchers believe that the fear of darkness is hereditary and ancestral. It was a time when our ancestors used to live in the caves and the dark represented fear and danger because predators were open to attack at night in the dark.
However, the nyctophobic condition isn’t only the fear of darkness. Adults and kids are fearful of what they can’t see in the darkness like robbers, monsters, and ghosts. The noises in the darkness make them fearful because they don’t know what has caused them.
Some people are more at the risk of developing this condition if they have got following conditions;
- Panic disorders or panic attacks
- History of phobias in the family
- OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
- Mental illness history
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Substance use disorder
Treatment of Nyctophobia
You can treat people with the nyctophobic condition by keeping the nightlights on, and they would feel comfortable in the lighted room rather than in the darkness. Some of the main treatment plans for nyctophobia are as follows;
- Mindfulness Exercises: meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga would help you to control your fear of darkness
- Psychotherapy: comprises talk therapy
- Hypnotherapy: rethinking about your anxiety and fear that is causing it, and it comprises relaxation exercises to calm down your mind
- Exposure Therapy: desensitizing you to the darkness by gradually exposing you to the darkness, and it is significant to perform such therapy under the supervision of any trained professional
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: it teaches you to change your response to the fear
Conclusion: What is Nyctophobia? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment
After an in-depth study of what is nyctophobia; its symptoms, causes, and treatment; we have realized that the nyctophobic condition could limit your life and social circle. If you’re experiencing its symptoms, then you should consult with the therapist as soon as you can.
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