Phasmophobia is an extreme fear of ghosts that can cause people to feel intense anxiety or dread. Doctors may recommend behavioral therapies to help individuals overcome this phobia.

Some people may enjoy feeling a little bit scared hearing a ghost story, watching a scary movie, or visiting a haunted house.

However, those with phasmophobia have an intense fear of ghosts that may cause significant distress or negatively affect their everyday lives. They may fear the nighttime, sleeping alone, or being in the dark.

This article explains the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment for phasmophobia, including when to contact a doctor.

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People with phasmophobia have an intense fear of ghosts or the supernatural. This fear may present as the following:

  • anxiety
  • intense discomfort or distress
  • a belief that ghosts may be a threat or cause serious harm
  • vivid images of the supernatural or a feeling that a supernatural presence is near
  • physical responses to fear, such as:
  • increased blood pressure
  • difficulty sleeping, which may result in daytime sleepiness
  • avoiding or attempting to escape areas in which a person believes a ghostly presence may be

Phasmophobia may cause other fears to develop, such as fear of the dark, fear of the nighttime, or fear of sleeping or being alone.

According to a 2018 case series, people with phasmophobia may not want to turn the lights off at night or feel able to live alone. They may also go to great lengths to avoid triggers, such as stories or movies about the supernatural.

Phasmophobia may begin in childhood and continue through adolescence and adulthood. Childhood experiences, such as feeling scared by stories of the supernatural, may leave a vivid impression and continue to affect people in later life.

Phasmophobia is an example of a specific phobia, which is an extreme, irrational fear of something that does not pose any real danger.

There is no clear cause of specific phobias. However, individuals may develop specific phobias by linking a situation or object with a strong emotion, such as panic or fear.

This link may occur if a person experiences a neutral event, such as driving, with an event that triggers fear or anxiety, such as an accident. They may then link fear or anxiety with driving.

A person may also model the reactions of others around them. If they observe a fearful reaction from another individual in response to a specific situation or object, such as a spider, they may also internalize the fear and develop the same response.

According to a 2018 article, phasmophobia meets the diagnostic criteria for a specific phobia.

A specific phobia is a persistent, extreme fear of something that poses no real threat. People feel intense anxiety and dread of exposure to the fear or will avoid it. Specific phobias significantly affect a person’s life.

The Anxiety & Depression Association of America provides a screening questionnaire for people who think they may have a specific phobia. Individuals may want to complete the form and take it to a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis.

To diagnose a specific phobia, a healthcare professional will conduct a thorough psychiatric assessment and take a full medical history.

They will assess a person’s symptoms and rule out other conditions, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Behavioral therapy may be one of the most effective treatments for specific phobias such as phasmophobia.

This may include exposure therapy, which gradually exposes a person to stimuli that cause fear. Over time, people will face the least anxiety-provoking situations and work up to gradually face the most.

A therapist can also teach people coping methods to be able to deal with their fear and anxiety. This may include:

This method helps desensitize people to situations that trigger the phobia and allows them to realize they are safe.

Other treatments

Other treatments may include hypnosis or virtual therapy, in which people face stimuli causing them fear through a computer.

Mental Health America suggests cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is also effective for treating phobias. CBT teaches people strategies and new coping skills so they can respond differently to a trigger.

This technique teaches people how to alter their thinking patterns to decrease or eliminate symptoms of the phobia.

Certain medications, such as antidepressants, alongside behavioral therapies, may also help relieve symptoms of phasmophobia.

According to a 2018 article, people may be reluctant to discuss phasmophobia with a healthcare professional due to feelings of shame or self-consciousness.

However, phasmophobia may be more common than individuals think, and treatments can help.

If someone is experiencing distress or mental health issues due to a fear of ghosts or the supernatural, or if phasmophobia is affecting everyday life, they can consult a doctor or a mental health professional.

Healthcare professionals can give peace of mind with a diagnosis and offer treatments to help someone manage their symptoms.

Phasmophobia is an extreme fear of ghosts or the supernatural. It may cause people to feel intense anxiety or dread in certain situations, such as at nighttime or in the dark.

Phasmophobia may cause sleep problems, mental health issues, or negatively affect quality of life. If people are experiencing significant discomfort or distress due to a phobia, it is important to speak with a healthcare professional.

Behavioral therapies, such as exposure therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy, are very effective treatments for phobias.