Fear Of The Dark (Nyctophobia): Symptoms, Risks, Diagnosis, Treatment

The fear of the dark is related to the unknown, most people who suffer from this disorder are afraid of not seeing the things that are around them, which generates anguish, depression, which must be treated by specialists at the as soon as possible. It is important that people understand that they should not let fears dominate their lives, as they can turn into a phobia, which translates into irrational fear of any situation that arises in their daily life.

The experiences told by some people who have suffered from this disease and which were published by various recognized specialists in the world, affirm that the fear of the dark generally begins as a child and that parents generally see it as a normal symptom, statement completely removed from reality. The human being is born without fear, these pathologies are acquired over time, the lack of visual stimulation also plays a leading role in this type of fear.

On certain occasions, feeling fear is normal, as long as it does not affect our daily life, work, studies, sports and recreational activities and in the specific case of fear of the dark, it directly affects the hours of rest and causes the fear of sleeping . It represents an alert and it is necessary to go to the specialist and start treatment immediately.


Fears in general present similar symptoms in people, the predominant one being the anguish that in most cases controls people once fear of any situation is repeatedly manifested in people. Symptoms that occur when a person is afraid of the dark include:


  • Difficulty breathing
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Shaking, shaking, or tingling sensations.
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Stomach ache
  • Hot flashes or flushes
  • Sweating


  • Overwhelming feeling of anxiety or panic.
  • Intense need to escape the situation
  • Self-detachment or “unreal” feeling.
  • Losing control or feeling crazy.
  • Feeling that you may die or lose consciousness.
  • Feeling powerless in the face of fear

Fears or Phobia?

If you are afraid of the dark, this does not mean that you are xenophobic, but be very careful because psychologists say that if fear negatively interferes with your usual tasks such as sleeping, driving, walking, going out or interacting with other people should deal with solving this situation.


It is clinically proven that people begin to fear dark places between 3 to 6 years of age, the most common fears at that age are:

  • Spectral
  • Monsters
  • Sleeping alone
  • Strange noises

If some of these symptoms become repetitive and severely affect your rest hours at night, which directly interfere with the development of your activities during the day, we can say that the person suffers from nicophobia.

Other risks you should take into account: 

  • It is very common for children to begin to experience fear of the dark, when their parents experience distress and fear while caring for them during the night hours.
  • It has also been seen many cases where adult people feel the fear of being dark, since during their childhood they were overprotected by their parents, they grew up dependent on their parents.
  • Traumatic experiences can also generate any type of fear in a person.
  • Some cases are presented by genetics, according to some studies that indicate that there are people more susceptible than others and it comes from their genes.


Pay close attention, if you or your child has some of the symptoms described above, it is important that you visit the therapist or psychologist and start treating this pathology.

  • If you can’t sleep.
  • Anxiety and anguish in the dark.
  • Any other symptoms that make you panic in the dark.

It is important that you speak with your doctor, that you perform tests that allow the specialist to have an accurate diagnosis of your fear of the dark and what therapies you can apply, to help you solve this problem.


In general, you may consider seeking treatment if:

  • If your fears are extreme at any time of the day.
  • Uncontrollable panic just thinking about that situation.
  • You avoid staying in a lonely, dark and secluded place.
  • If the situation repeats itself continuously over a period of more than 6 months.

You can also use:

  • Exposure therapies, where the specialist repeatedly subjects the patient to fear by creating real situations that help him control the situation. This is achieved in sessions that last quite a long time.
  • While cognitive sessions are other ways that the therapist can help you change negative thoughts and isolated from reality to positive, to eradicate fear.
  • Treatments that include relaxation exercises can also help you control the stress caused by fear of the dark and reduce fears during the night hours.

Drug treatments

In most cases, medications are not recommended to treat fears, however the decision will be made by the specialist after seeing the patient’s progress and therapies. Generally the most common prescription drugs are antidepressants.


  • It is important that you pay attention to your fears, to the symptoms that you experience either as an adult or those of your children.
  • Make an appointment with the doctor and explain in detail the anguish generated by being in the dark, tell him if your problem comes from your childhood.
  • In general, people experience different fears, the important thing is that they are able to accept them, undergo effective treatments that allow them to improve their quality of life.

Georgia Tarrant
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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.