It is very common for most people to be a little afraid of the dark. Nyctophobia (a.k.a. Lygophobia, Scotophobia) is more than just a simple and unexplained fear of the dark or of dark places and is commonly seen in children. However, in some, it passes on and continues when the person attains adulthood. Nyctophobia, if present, can be the most crippling fear which interferes in a negative manner with the everyday life of the victim.
The fear of the dark is seen to be one of the most common fears children of all age groups live with. Studies have indicated that the fear builds up starting when the child is about three years of age and most children are also known to get over the fear by the end of the first decade of their lives.
Like many other phobias, nyctophobia may also be associated with real-life experiences. It may have been that a traumatic incident involving the dark took place in the victim’s life when he/she was very young.
Nyctophobia – Fear of the Dark: Symptoms And Treatment Options
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Another reason may have been that the victim has suffered some kind of abuse during the dark hours of the day during his/her childhood. Listening to terrifying stories during childhood during bedtime may be yet another reason. The child may have had recurrent nightmares as a result of the stories which finally stayed on as a phobia. There is also a theory that this fear may have resulted as a part of evolution, as most predators hunt at night. It is important to seek help from a professional to overcome nyctophobia if the fear of the dark causes undue stress and disturbance to one’s daily routine.
Nyctophobia – Symptoms
Any individual who suffers from nyctophobia becomes nervous in a darkened environment. He/she is reluctant to venture out at night. They are afraid to turn off lights during nighttimes and always leave lights on unnecessarily. They are in the habit of sleeping with the lights on through the night. If forced to spend time in the dark, they may experience symptoms including the following: they have panic attacks, they become nervous, they experience dizziness, they have palpitations, their mouth becomes dry, they feel ill, and they sweat profusely. Individuals with nyctophobia become defensive and distressed if forced to spend time in the dark. They make a concerted attempt to run away from dark rooms and areas of the house.
Nyctophobia – Treatment Options
One of the most practical solutions to deal with nyctophobia is to install a night light. However, this works only indoors in one’s own home. In extreme cases, however, the most fruitful solution is to seek help from a professional therapist who can work with the patient to reduce the fear and help him/her lead a better quality life. Systematic desensitization, where the therapist regularly exposes the patient to darkness and helps him/her gain more control of the fear is a popular method. Hypnotherapy can be used to find the source of the fear. Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is another method that involves reconstruction of the basic reality of the individual that feeds the fear. Breathing exercises for the purpose of relaxation, and talk therapy are other techniques that can help along the way. Talk therapy involves the therapist talking to the victim and digging his/her past experiences to find the root cause of the fear. Medication is prescribed to tame the physical anxiety symptoms that may occur.
Fear of the Dark – Self Help Treatment
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