Fear of the dark is one of the most common fears during the childhood. While most children grow out of fearing the dark for some of them and for some adults being in darkness is still a nightmare. It is normal to get an occasional chill or weird feeling while walking at night, but when the fear of the darkness starts to interfere with your everyday life you might want to consider whether you suffer from a phobia.
Nyctophobia (a phobia of the dark) is a word derived from the Greek “nyx” (night) and the Greek “phobos” (fear). Nyctophobia is an intense fear, an overwhelming terror accompanied by both physical and emotional symptoms. Physical symptoms include hot or cold flashes, extensive sweating, rapid heartbeat, nausea, trembling, chest or stomach pain. Emotional symptoms include inability to speak or think clearly, a sensation of detachment from reality, feeling of weakness, feeling as though you are about to die and an overwhelming anxiety or panic.
Sufferers of the phobia of the dark are often aware that their fear is irrational, nevertheless facing, or even thinking about facing, the feared situation brings on a panic attack or severe anxiety. They know that there is no actual danger, but feel powerless to control their fear. Phobia often causes embarrassment and social detachment. A sufferer feels lonely with his secret fear and would not talk about it. However, this is a very common, although often unspoken, fear.
A phobia sufferer would avoid darkness at all cost. He or she will find a quick excuse not to go out with his or her friends and sleep at night with all the lights on.
Phobia of the dark may be related to a traumatic childhood experience. It can also escalate as a result of watching too many horror movies. Unlike many other types of fear it is important to remember that there is very little to gain in the way of avoidance. If you have a fear of spiders you can avoid going to a forest. However, with the fear of darkness there is always a night that follows day.
Fear of the dark is usually not fear of darkness itself, but fear of possible or imagined dangers concealed by darkness. A sufferer imagines what would or could happen when in a dark environment. The earlier the fear is addressed the stronger the possibility that the fear can be controlled.