Suffering from Fear of the Dark? Should You be Scared of Achluophobia?
Fearing darkness in the modern age just does not happen as much. Modern lighting, education, and the fact we shift work has taught us we really have nothing to fear. More things positive and negative happen in the sunshine than it ever does in the dark. Some of the best things such as human cuddling happens in the dark. For those times we do fear the dark here comes some information that might shed a light on what to fear of the dark or not.
Achluophobia definition comes as an abnormal fear of darkness to the point it is detrimental to your life. More common to younger people than older people it grips a person to a point it causes physical illness from the stress of worrying. Achluophobia symptoms appear as heart palpitations, sweating, and muddled thinking. Something as simple as watching a television show that triggers deep emotional pain can begin the process. Childhood memories of something traumatic happening while in the dark can start the problem as well. Treatment involves going into darkness and experiencing the good things about it. This overcomes misperceptions about darkness and puts it in proper perspective. Your body and mind will soon realize nothing dangerous happens when you look at darkness.
For children it often involves perception. Children’s literature over simplifies some things by using dark as a metaphor for evil. Reading stories that have a reasonable view of the dark, doing activities that involve going into the dark or having a conversation about the dark when watching television will prevent the over reacting. Children often make associations to extraneous factors when something hurts them physically or emotionally. They may blame the lights being off as the source of the problem or that fact the moon was out. Often questioning children about it alleviates it. Why am I scared of the dark? Do not dismiss the question but instead ask questions such as ‘how does the light cause the problem”, “how does the light make you feel”, ‘why is this light fearful but not the sunshine’. It gives you clues to how the afraid of the dark phobia developed. Accept answers as is then try to find a story or a person who can tell a story that is opposite where dark triumphs in a positive way. It is where we get the idea of the “dark heroes” Batman is a good example of that. The fear of losing his parents leads to creating a system of justice.
Medical conditions and emotional conditions do exist that facilitate being scared of the dark. Some people develop an irrational fear of the dark. It has no basis in reality what so ever. Often if trauma did not happen the source of such fear may never be found. Whether the source becomes found or not does not matter, treatment is available. Sometimes a philia develops. Philias are obsessive attractions to something. In this case the dark may not be the real issue but the thrill of being scared. When we become scared the body pumps in natural chemicals that heighten our sense of awareness. It can become addictive to some people. A change in brain chemistry where endorphins lessen and the balance is off can result in anxiety. Some people with anxiety fear the night. Their body chemistry becomes constantly geared for being afraid of something. Neurological conditions that may result in fear of the dark phobia are:
- Some ADHD
- Bipolar disorder
Treatment begins with a discussion with your regular physician. Discussing the symptoms, and lab work helps the doctor determine if it is a temporary condition or something more serious. More serious conditions general physicians send to specialists depending on age and what the possible trigger points are. Most begin with behavior modification such as relaxation techniques, meditative breathings, or visualization of pleasant thoughts. If the trigger point is known then exposure therapy becomes a possibility as in putting the situation that causes the reaction in front of the person until the fear becomes unraveled. This therapy is done cautiously and only in some situations since some things we should be slightly fearful of. After behavioral therapy further treatment depending on the underlying cause may involve medication. The easiest cause to treat is anxiety but other medications exist to aid in relaxation or alleviating nervousness.
How to Not Be Afraid of the Dark
Certain parenting techniques or things you do for yourself as an adult can lessen the possibility of phobia of the dark.
- When that feeling arises call a friend, talk to a parent or your spouse. Chatting about your possible fear often gets rid of it. People tell their story or experience and you learn fear of the night is common and can be overcome.
- Give the fear a name. It takes the unknown factor away.
- Empower yourself. Instead of caving in to worry distract yourself with a positive activity.
- Recognize when you are stressed. Do activities to relax. Know being afraid is a normal human feeling.
When fear arises take a walk. Physical exercise produces chemicals in the body for calmness. By exercising you circumvent the fear cycle. It matters not what kind of exercise. Fear causes us to breathe shallowly until it overwhelms us then we gulp the air. Circumvent fear by breathing deeply. Count to eight while breathing in, hold the breath and then release on a count of 8. Deep breathing has a calming effect on the mind and body. The act of creating something often circumvents fear. Journal in a notebook. It matters not what you write. The act of writing causes the brain to go into a different modality. No perfectionism. Just write your stream of consciousness. Doodling or drawing whatever comes to mind circumvents fear as well. Recognize negative thoughts and rephrase it into the positive. For example, I have failed. I forgot to put this into my work task. It is useless. Rephrase it. Look this is how many things I have done well. I did forget to put this one item in but it can modify it and be ready for it next time. The item is useful for most purposes. Use your strengths to help your weakness and just be honest about it. Many things go much better if you have a partner.
Fear of the darkness is not something to be ashamed of ever. It comes as something all humans experience at different levels at one time or another. When it makes physical ailments it is time to deal with it more directly. Many choices exist that will do that in a way that is best for your personality and life.