Achluophobia is a severe pathological fear of nighttime darkness. Other names for this fear include nyctophobia/myctophobia (from the Greek word for “night”), scotophobia (“darkness”), or lygophobia (“twilight”).  The fear of the dark is extremely common among children and is natural to some degree, but if it intensifies to the detriment of normal functioning it can be classified as pathological, and therefore a legitimate phobia.

Some researchers, such as Sigmund Freud, theorize that the fear could be a manifestation of separation anxiety disorder. With most phobias, the individual experiencing the fear has experienced some real-life trauma during some point in their life. A person with Achluophobia may have had a scare in the dark (such as a break-in), been harmed or abused at night, or perhaps experienced vivid nightmares and night-terrors. Achluophobia can often begin as a mild fear of the unexpected or unknown during childhood, around age two. An individual may also cope with an irrational fear of demons, vampires, ghosts or other nocturnal “creatures”.

The symptoms of Achluophobia are varied depending on the individual, and can range from night sweats to nausea to intense panic attacks. Achluophobia, like other phobias can often be treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, relaxation techniques, or hypnotherapy.

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