Dr. Didem Gunduz

What is Nicotophobia (Fear of the Dark)? How Is It Treated?

The phobia of the dark is known as Nicotophobia. It can prevent people from getting a good night's sleep, and if it persists into adulthood, it can impair daily functions. Fear of the dark is a common phobia among children. The good news is that the majority of people eventually give up on it. While most people overcome their fears, others cannot. We have prepared for you all the information you need to know about the phobia of the dark, including the symptoms, causes and treatment options.

What is Nicotophobia (Fear of the Dark)?

The fear of the dark is called Nicophobia, that is, the fear of dark environments without light. It is also known as achluophobia, lygophobia, and scotophobia. To avoid acute anxiety, a person who is in the dark can avoid environments where there will be darkness, such as a movie theater.

The brain responds to the dark with an anxiety-increasing "startle responseIt responds with “. Those who are afraid of the dark may also have trouble sleeping. This, in turn, can cause fatigue throughout the day and possibly make it difficult to maintain a job.

What Are the Symptoms of Nicotophobia (Fear of the Dark)?  

Each phobia is defined by a specific fear. For example, children who are afraid of the dark may want to stay overnight at the camp or sleepover. However, they cannot do this because of their fear. Being unable to be alone in the dark has symptoms comparable to certain other mental problems. It is often associated with anxiety. Worries about what might happen can exacerbate an intense fear of the dark.

fear of the dark nicophobia
What are the symptoms of fear of the dark? How to overcome nicophobia?

Many people who suffer from pitch darkness also insomnia problem It might not come as a surprise. Physical or emotional symptoms may also occur. When you have a phobia of the dark, you may have symptoms when you are in the dark or guessing that you are in the dark. The symptoms can disrupt daily activities and also cause health problems.

Symptoms of nicophobia include:

  • panic attacks
  • trembling, shaking, or tingling sensation
  • Exude
  • increase in heart rate
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Respiratory Problems

What Causes Nicotophobia (Fear of the Dark)?

Many things can trigger a particular phobia. While the exact cause of this fear is unknown, research has revealed that it is evolutionary. As a result, the real source of this phobia is not darkness, but unknown factors that may exist in the dark.

Nyctophobia is a learned or worsening behavior for some people, while in others it is present for as long as they can remember. Although individuals of all ages may be afraid of the dark, children are more likely to be afraid of the dark than adults. The cause of dark phobia is divided into two:

fear of the dark symptoms of nicophobia
People who are afraid of the dark cannot sleep at night without turning on a light.

1) Directly Learned Experiences

A painful encounter with the feared item or scenario, such as being left alone in the dark in a dangerous position. Children and adults who have had a traumatic or distressing experience in the dark are more likely to acquire this type of phobia, especially if the event occurred in the dark. When the lights go out or you think about being in the dark, memories of that terrible event can surface. As a result, phobia of the dark can occur as a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

2) Experiments in Observational Learning

Observing others encounter the feared object or situation, or living with a phobia, such as witnessing another person being injured in the dark, or growing up in a home where an important adult is afraid of the dark. Fear of the dark can develop as a result of watching a scary movie or hearing a disturbing narrative. You may find yourself picturing these scary pictures in your mind.

How to Overcome Fear of the Dark?

People who can't stay in the dark can seek therapy. The goal is to reduce or eliminate symptoms. Speech therapy, relaxation methods, and exposure therapy are just a few of the treatments available. Expert psychologists and psychiatrists determine the question of how to overcome the fear of the dark in adults and children according to the following methods.

1) Drug therapy

Anti-anxiety medications may be given if your healthcare provider believes it is appropriate for you. Some phobias don't always require therapy, especially if you're afraid of something you don't see every day.

2) Relaxation Therapy

Being fiercely aware of your immediate surroundings. Deep breathing and movement are examples of relaxation treatments. It can help manage the stress and physical symptoms associated with phobias. Examples of stress reduction strategies such as yoga, deep breathing, and meditation. Staying active, eating healthy and taking care of yourself are examples of this. Regular exercise can reduce fear by helping people become less susceptible to the physical symptoms of a panic attack.

3) Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

CBT stands for cognitive-behavioral therapy. It is a type of talk therapy that focuses on identifying and changing negative thinking habits. It helps people identify their anxious feelings and replace them with more positive or realistic ones. A person who is afraid of the dark may be given information that shows that being in the dark does not always have harmful consequences. This type of therapy is rarely used alone to address phobias.

4) Gradual Exposure to Darkness

Expose the patient to the source of their anxiety in a safe environment. This treatment involves exposing people to their fears over and over again until they are no longer afraid of what they fear. Visualizing fear and experiencing fear in real life are two methods of exposure to fears. Many treatment programs combine the two methods.

5) Online Therapy

It is very important not to miss your therapy appointments and to dedicate yourself to your recovery. Traditional therapy sometimes makes it difficult to visit therapists. However, with virtual therapy, you can join your therapy whenever and wherever you want.

fear of the dark nicophobia
Getting used to standing in the dark can be a step towards overcoming fear.

Nicotophobia Treatment Is Possible!

A specific phobia is characterized by an irrational and persistent fear of a specific object, person or situation. If you think you may be suffering from darkness, consult your healthcare provider. If you suffer from this phobia, know that you are not alone and get rid of your fear of the dark by getting treatment for nictophobia.

Scientific Resources:

📌 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear_of_the_dark

📌 https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22785-nyctophobia-fear-of-the-dark

📌 https://psychcentral.com/health/nyctophobia

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What is Mental Health? (Mental Collapse Factors!)

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Born in 1984, Dr. Didem Gündüz completed her education at the Faculty of Medicine. After specializing in internal medicine, she completed her higher education in dermatology. Didem worked in various public hospitals for many years and is currently serving her patients in a private clinic.

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