Achluophobia is a specific phobia characterized by an irrational and persistent fear of darkness or the absence of light. People with achluophobia may experience extreme anxiety or panic attacks when exposed to darkness or situations where they cannot see clearly. This fear may interfere with their daily activities and quality of life, as they may avoid going out at night or entering dark places. Achluophobia is a type of specific phobia and is considered a treatable mental health condition. Treatment options include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, and medication.
What is meant by Fear of Darkness?
Anxiety disorders include phobias. They are an intense, long-lasting, and overwhelming fear of a specific animal, thing, person, activity, setting, or circumstance. “Achluophobia,” also known as “Fear of Darkness,” is a common phobia or fear that affects both children and adults to varying degrees. Fear of the dark can also be a fear of potential or potential threats concealed by the darkness, rather than just a fear of the darkness itself. Fear of the dark is natural, especially during the developmental stage of a child. When fear of the dark becomes severe enough to be considered pathological, it is referred to as achluophobia. Many young children are afraid of the dark because they believe there are monsters hiding under their beds and in their closets. Other children may be terrified of the dark as a result of some of the nightmares that many children will experience.
What are the causes of achluophobia(fear of darkness)?
A phobia is typically associated with an intensely unpleasant past event that may or may not be remembered by the conscious mind but left a very strong imprint on the unconscious mind. As a result, whenever something similar or similar to that situation occurs, the unconscious mind recalls the memory of that severe unpleasant event, causing the subject to be phobic. In some cases, watching too many horror movies can also help you to overcome your fear of darkness.
15 major symptoms of achluophobia:
People who have severe achluophobia will find it difficult to be in any space with no light. They may find themselves out of breath, their hearts pounding, their palms sweating, and their entire bodies trembling. In the worst cases, a sufferer may become nauseous and find it difficult to communicate with those around them. And, unlike other phobias that may be specifically triggered or socially related, achluophobia can strike at any time of day or night. When they are in the dark, they exhibit the following behavior:
- Fear of the dark that is irrational and exaggerated
- Shortness of breath and a racing heart
- Body trembling and shivering
- Panicked feeling
- Terrified feeling
- Taking drastic measures to avoid remaining in the dark
- Increased Heart Rate
- Pulse rate increase
- Hot or cold
- Feeling trapped and powerless to escape
- Feelings of numbness or pins
- A dry mouth
- Ringing in your ears
- Blood pressure is high
What are the risk factors that increase the fear of darkness/ dark phobia?
A child is more likely to develop a fear of darkness or night terrors. It is considered normal for a child of this age. Children of this age group are also prone to developing fears of ghosts, monsters, sleeping alone, and strange noises. A nightlight is thought to help children fall asleep easily and overcome their fear.
- A traumatic event, such as being involved in an accident or being injured, can also cause a person to become phobic.
- Some people are predisposed to fear due to genetics.
- Some children grow up witnessing their parents fighting, splitting up, and dealing with a variety of problems in their lives.
- Too much reliance on parents also causes issues for children as they grow.
- Insomniacs have revealed that more than half of the student population has developed some kind of fear associated with darkness.
Let’s talk about the different therapies which helps you to overcome the fear of dark:
Therapy of exposure
Exposure therapy is a type of behavioral therapy used to help people cope with problematic fears. A person is gradually exposed to the situation that causes them distress through the use of various systematic techniques. The goal of exposure therapy is to create a safe environment in which a person can reduce anxiety, avoid feared situations, and improve his or her quality of life. When people are anxious because of a fear, phobia, or traumatic memory, they frequently avoid anything that reminds them of it. This avoidance provides temporary relief but ultimately perpetuates the fear and avoidance pattern. In some cases, avoiding the feared entity can exacerbate the situation and give it more power.
Exposure therapy is intended to reduce a person’s irrational feelings about an object or situation by safely exposing him or her to various aspects of that fear. ET can help with a variety of mental health issues. Exposure therapy has proven to be beneficial for many people suffering from anxiety and trauma. The following are examples of relevant mental health issues:
- Anxiety about social situations
- Anxiety in general
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Problems with obsessive compulsive anxiety (OCD)
- Acute stress disorder or other trauma-related problems
- Anxiety attacks
Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychological treatment that has been shown to be effective for a variety of issues such as depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug abuse issues, marital problems, fear, eating disorders, and severe mental illness. CBT focuses on changing the automatic negative thoughts that contribute to and exacerbate our emotional problems, depression, and anxiety. These impulsive negative thoughts also have a negative impact on our mood. Faulty thoughts are identified, challenged, and replaced with more objective, realistic thoughts through CBT. Few techniques that are used in CBT are identifying negative thoughts, practicing new skills, goal setting, problem solving, self-monitoring. CBT is well-known for providing the following key advantages:
- It aids in the development of healthier thought patterns by making you aware of the negative and frequently unrealistic thoughts that dampen your feelings and moods
- It works for a wide range of maladaptive behaviors
- It is frequently less expensive than other types of therapy
- It works whether the therapy is done online or in person
- It is appropriate for people who do not require psychotropic medication
Another well-documented effect of watching violence is desensitization. However, desensitization is a psychological process in which a response is elicited repeatedly in situations in which the action tendency that arises from the emotion is irrelevant. Desensitization is a technique that is also used to treat phobias that involves gradually and repeatedly exposing the fearful stimulus to nonthreatening conditions. When desensitization works, the phobic response becomes less and less intense over time. This is also known as inurement, and it involves assisting the patient in gradually unlearning their phobia and anxiety. It usually entails repeated exposure to the stimuli, after which the person becomes unresponsive or shows no signs of anxiety about their phobia.
- Deep-muscle relaxation and breathing exercises are taught to the patient in order to counteract the physical effects of stress, such as racing heartbeat and sweating.
- Anxiety-inducing situations associated with the patient’s specific problem or phobia is identified. Fears are ranked in descending order of strength, forming a hierarchy.
- The patient is presented with a frightening and unwelcome situation. This step is all about exposure, which can occur either through visualization (only in the patient’s imagination, known as in vitro exposure) or in reality (called in vivo exposure).
- The weakest fears are usually presented first, followed by the scariest and most difficult to deal with. The patient works on remaining calm through muscle relaxation, which aids in the control of anxiety symptoms.