What is nyctophobia?

Nyctophobia or fear of the dark is an anxiety disorder characterized by excessively strong fear of the dark. The most common cause for this mental health condition are the hypervigilant or hypersensitive areas of the brain responsible for perceiving and interpreting potential danger.

Nyctophobia can be developed temporarily, in times when our psyche is unstable, agitated by recent events, or when it is focused on content that the brain considers a threat. Most of us know the feeling of an intense vigilance while watching a horror movie. However, in nyctophobia, this excessive vigilance is generalized to other areas of daily life and causes a significant discomfort in various situations.

Nyctophobia causes symptoms such as intense shortness of breath, excessive sweating, nausea, dry mouth, tremors, strong palpitations, inability to speak or concentrate, or a strong feeling of disconnecting from reality. As a result, nyctophobia can be very distressing.

What are the causes of nyctophobia?

As with any other anxiety disorder, anxious parents can play a role in the development of nyctophobia. For some children, it is possible to learn to fear solely by observing anxious reactions of their parents in certain situations. An overly protective "helicopter parenting" can also contribute to the development of this phobia. As some adults and children are simply more prone to anxiety due to their genetics, heredity is also one of the risk factors.

How can nyctophobia be reduced?

VIRTUO is specialized in reducing nyctophobia. We use the most effective methods supported by years of research and practice. By providing information about important processes in the human body and engaging innovative technology, we will help you enjoy your everyday life after just a few sessions. During the sessions, we use a verified and effective technique of confrontation with a stimulus that causes anxiety. At VIRTUO, the confrontation takes place in virtual reality and follows only after mutual agreement. Another great advantage is that during the exposure, you are completely safe in the hands of an expert who will help you break the vicious circle of negative thoughts and fears.

An important step on your path to health is to realize that all physiological and psychological reactions follow certain patterns. Avoidant behavior is a habit that can be unlearned. Moreover, there are plenty of effective strategies that help you respond more calmly during unpleasant situations. Over the course of your sessions at VIRTUO, you gradually learn that anxiety-provoking situations are less dangerous than what they seem. You will learn what fear is, what happens with your brain and body when it arises and why it has become your constant companion. You will acquire effective techniques, thanks to which your nyctophobia will soon be a thing of the past. Our method requires your active cooperation. It works most effectively when it is adapted to your unique situation and when you regularly practice all the methods you have learned at VIRTUO.

Nyctophobia rarely disappears on its own. On the contrary, it tends to get worse over time. The sooner the affected individuals begin treatment, the more likely they are to get rid of them permanently. Although it is possible to successfully overcome nyctophobia within a few sessions, most patients do not receive any treatment.