Halloween is quickly approaching, and while scary situations are fun for lots of people, for others it can be overwhelming and stressful. You might wonder how or why this would be so? Phobias…they are far more common and distressing than you might think. People with phobias are more vulnerable than usual during the Halloween season; many of those affected by a specific phobia will find themselves repeatedly in close contact with their obsessive fear.
A few phobias related to Halloween include:
- Arachnophobia- Fear of Spiders
- Ophidiophobia- Fear of Snakes
- Nyctophobia- Fear of Darkness
- Thanatophobia- Fear of Death
Many people do not realize how common phobias are or how intense and debilitating the associated fear and anxiety can be. Phobic reactions include physical symptoms such as:
- Rapid Breathing
- Sweaty palms
Since spiders, snakes, darkness, and skeletons are pretty much synonymous with Halloween—they are almost impossible to avoid. So, what can a person do to cope with these phobias?
- Practice deep-breathing and relaxation techniques
- Minimize the use of caffeine and alcohol since these tend to heighten anxiety
- Surround yourself with family and friends who help you feel safe
- Talk about your feelings with a counselor or trusted other and try various coping strategies
What can the rest of us do to help someone with a phobia during this season?
- Be sensitive and understanding about phobia triggers
- Validate feelings and reassure the person they are not alone
- Avoid pressuring them
- Ask them what helps and try to deliver on that
When decorating or dressing up, try to be mindful of those with phobias, especially those within your social network. This will ensure everyone can have fun and enjoy the holiday. Happy Halloween!
~ Nikolas Gonzalez – NAMI Intern ‘23
~ Janet Haag, Ed.