In this article, we will discuss Achluophobia.
Phobia is a word derived from Greek language which means fear. This may be an exaggerated aversion with something.
There various factors which can contribute to develop phobia. Environmental and genetic factors are likely to pave way in the development of a phobia.
Anyone can expose themselves to any kind of phobia by thinking irrationally about a particular thing.
A person with some kind of phobia will try to avoid things which he considers to be hazardous.
Phobias are mental disorders which can be cured or overcome,
Achluophobia is a fear of darkness. This word is derived from Greek language.
Achluo means to darken and phobia means fear. Achluophobia is closely related to nyctophobia.
When a person gets extremely afraid of being in darkness or he gets afraid of night. This type of phobia can usually occur followed by some traumatic experience with darkness or night or it can occur at its own as well.
The intensity of this fear is so high that it sometimes causes changes in physical conditions.
For example, sweating, shivering and increased heart beat.
Hypnosis and cognitive therapy can be helpful in treating the patients with such disorders.
Symptoms of this phobia are very much in similarity with what an individual might come across in other types of phobias.
Individuals suffering from this phobia are afraid of darkness which may create mental distress form them while being in darkness.
These symptoms might effect the productivity of a person related to his job and career.
This can possibly also have negative consequences for mental health.
There have been many similarities in different phobias. These symptoms can be either physical or emotional.
A person suffering from achluophobia might develop symptoms when thinking about darkness or finding himself into darkness.
Physical symptoms related to achluophobia are as follow;
- Problems in breathing
- Fast heart beats
- Pain in chest
- Shivering , trembling, or tingling sensations
- Dizziness or Lightheadedness
- Upset stomach
- Hot or cold flashes
- Uncontrolled anxiety or panic attacks.
- Urges to get out of this situation.
- Feeling unreal.
- Detachment from self.
- Feeling overwhelmed.
- Feeling crazy.
- Feeling dead or feelings of losing consciousness.
- Feeling powerless over your fear.
At an age of three to six years a child is more vulnerable to develop fear od darkness or feae of night.
In this age, it is thought to be normal for a child. It is also common among children of this age group to develop certain fears of, ghosts, monsters, sleeping alone and strange noises.
Nightlight is considered helpful for children to fall asleep easily and overcome their fear.
When severe fear causes problems for them in sleeping it may cause anxiety and if this grows with them it may turn out to be achluophobia.
Other risk factors are as follow;
Some children grow watching their parents fighting, parting their ways and dealing with a lot of problems in their lives.
This makes children fearful and causes developing achluophobia.
Too much dependency on parents also causes problems for children while they are growing.
If this dependency continues with their growth it might cause generalized anxiety in them.
If someone goes through a traumatic event, for example involving in an accident or getting injured may also cause a person to be phobic.
Due to genetics some people are more likely to develop fear.
Achluophobia and Sleep Disorders
Achluophobia may also be caused by sleeping disorders like insomnia.
A study conducted on students who are having insomnia have revealed that more than half population of students have developed some kind of fear associated with darkness.
Responses, to noises, of students were measured by the researchers in darkness and light as well.
Students who struggle with sleeping were easily frightened by noise. Those who don’t have troubles with sleeping actually became used to noise with the passage of time.
Those who were having insomnia have developed anxiety in them.
Management of Achluophobia:
To manage fear of darkness one needs to conquer the emotion of fear. To do this a person suffering from this phobia needs to consciously train his mind.
He should breakdown the previous dysfunctional associations with the factor that result in triggering phobia.
Those dysfunctional associations should be replaced with new positive one.
Once a person is able to do it, he will tackle the root cause of phobias and will be able to overcome distressing feelings and thoughts.
There is no need of treatment in case of some phobias especially the fear of something which doesn’t usually occur in daily routine.
For example, spiders or snakes.
Achluophobia can also create troubles for a person in falling asleep which can deteriorate his health and can lead to the development of sleep disorders, i.e, insomnia.
A simple treatment for the people who are afraid of sleeping in the dark can change their room from a dark one to a brighter one.
This treatment doesn’t particularly treat the phobias. Following are few treatments that can be helpful.
In exposure therapy a person is exposed to his fear again and again until the thing, about which they are afraid, does not trigger any kind of feeling of phobia or anxiety.
Two prominent methods are used to expose someone to fear. One is visualisation of fear and the other one is to experience the fear in reality.
Many of treatment approaches work on these two methods or combining both of these.
Those treatment plans which are based on exposure have proved to be useful for people for a longer period.
The purpose of Cognitive therapy is to help individuals in identifying their feelings related to anxiety and allowing them to change these feelings with realistic thoughts or positive feelings.
A person who is suffering from achluophobia may be shown some examples or evidence that being in darkness does not necessarily mean that it can trigger negative thoughts and lead to negative consequences.
Cognitive restructuring is the part of behavioural therapy which helps the patients suffering from achluophobia as they have negative thoughts.
Moreover, many clients do not understand their potential of coping with fearful situations.
Cognitive restructuring helps clients to get to know to counter their negative thoughts and then change them to productive or positive thoughts which eventually decrease stress and avoid anxiety.
In 1950’s Wolpe developed this therapy.
This therapy is based on the principle of classical conditioning and it is similar to behavioral therapy.
The aim of applying this therapy is to eliminate the phobia and replace this fear with another useful relaxation response to fear.
There are three phases to the treatment:
Firstly, the person suffering from phobia is made aware of technique which is muscle relaxation technique.
A person is also taught with breathing exercises.
For example, control over breathing, muscle detensioning or meditation.
It a very important step because of a mutual sub consciousness. In this step the response is reserved as it is mismatching with the other.
In this case where phobia is involved fear involves tension and tension is not compatible with relaxation.
Secondly, the patient develops a hierarchy of fears.
It starts with a stimuli which incites A lower level of anxiety and then grows up further to an extreme situation.
Lastly, patients develop a hierarchy of their fear stimuli starting from a lower unpleasant stimuli and practice its relaxation technique.
While practicing this relaxation therapy when they feel pleasant and feel that they are no longer afraid then continue to the next step of therapy.
If at any point a person feels uncomfortable or upset he can easily switch back to the initial stage and restart the process to gain relaxation.
Phobias exist in the subconscious mind of a person which means that it is impossible to understand that a specific phobia is not dangerous doesn’t matter how much we tell ourselves.
Our body and our mind will still react to fear.
Hypnosis intends to directly get in touch with our subconscious and try to alter our thinking patterns about phobias.
The process of hypnosis involves putting a person into a relaxed state of mind.
Therapist will communicate with the client about the phobia without letting you lose control of yourself all the time.
If the client does not exactly know the root cause of phobia then it might take some time to probe the root causes of the phobia.
After getting to know the cause of phobia the therapist will go further in treatment and will use various techniques to alter the responses of the client.
This will make the client to slowly and calmly confront the phobia while being normal and calm.
In this kind of treatment deep breathing can be helpful for people with achluophobia.
It is helpful in the management of physical symptoms and also it can help to manage stress and anxiety which is associated with phobia.
This type of treatment is not always considered suitable to treat phobia. Medication can be used for some kind of anxiety disorders.
Research conducted on the use of medication for the treatment of phobias is very little.
This therapy is productive in helping people to divert their spam of thoughts from negative to positive.
This helps in treatment of achluophobia because people get indulged so much in their fears that they fail to get to know that the object they are afraid of is not that much fearful.
In this training people get diverted from fearful thoughts and it becomes convenient for them to focus on positive aspects.
Achluophobia is irrational fear of darkness which affects different individuals in different ways.
Individuals suffering from this phobia suffer from symptoms every time there is darkness in room or when lights go off in during movie.
Symptoms include increased blood pressure but they can be as severe as leading to insomnia.
Results of different studies have proven the effectiveness of cognitive therapy and hypnosis in treating this phobia.
Thus it a disorder with severe symptoms but can be conquered easily.
FAQs about Achluophobia
Q1. What is phobia?
Phobias are sets of irrational beliefs and thought patterns that result in emotion of fear after being triggered from specific stimuli.
Q2. What causes achluophobia?
Achluophobia might arise as a result of a traumatic event related to darkness or night.
Q3. What are physical consequences of achluophobia?
Achluophobia can cause physical symptoms.
For example, trembling, shivering, sweating, rapid heart beats and cardiac arrest in severe cases.
Q4. What are mental consequences of achluophobia?
Achluophobia can cause panic attacks, anxiety, stress and insomnia.
Q5. What are treatment methods to cure achluophobia?
There are various treatments for achluophobia which are given below.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy