Samhainophobia is a fear of Halloween. People with this specific phobia feel anxious when they think about or experience anything to do with Halloween. Many people with samhainophobia have gone through a past traumatic situation related to Halloween. Exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and hypnotherapy can help you overcome samhainophobia.
People with samhainophobia (sam-HI-noh-phobia) have a fear of Halloween. Someone with samhainophobia may have extreme fear or anxiety at the thought of Halloween, including:
The word samhain comes from the festival of Samhain, first celebrated by the Celtic druids about 2,000 years ago. The Celts mainly lived in the region that is now Ireland, Northern France and the United Kingdom.
The Celts believed that the living and the dead mingled on Oct. 31, the night before the Celtic New Year. The festival included large bonfires, where they sacrificed animals to please the dead. The Celts often wore costumes made of animal skins and heads.
Phobias are a form of anxiety disorder. They lead to an excessive fear of an event or situation that isn’t harmful in reality.
Samhainophobia is a type of specific phobia disorder. A specific situation (Halloween) leads to a fearful response.
About 9% of American adults and close to 20% of teenagers have a specific phobia disorder — like samhainophobia — sometime in their lives. These disorders affect nearly twice as many women as men.
Someone with samhainophobia may be afraid of:
You’re more likely to develop samhainophobia or a different type of specific phobia disorder if you already have:
Other phobias linked to samhainophobia include:
Possible causes of samhainophobia include:
Anything related to Halloween may bring on samhainophobia. Samhainophobia triggers include seeing:
Samhainophobia symptoms can range from mild to extreme. They include:
In addition to the above symptoms, samhainophobia triggers may cause children to:
If samhainophobia disrupts your life, your healthcare provider may recommend visiting a mental health professional like a psychologist. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) doesn’t recognize samhainophobia as a phobic disorder. But a psychologist may make a diagnosis after evaluating your symptoms.
You may have a specific phobic disorder if the fear of Halloween:
Exposure therapy is one of the main treatments for samhainophobia. During exposure therapy, a mental health professional exposes you to situations and images that may trigger your symptoms. As many as 9 in 10 people with specific phobias see their symptoms improve after getting this type of psychotherapy (talk therapy).
During exposure therapy, you:
Other techniques to overcome samhainophobia include:
Severe samhainophobia can impact your quality of life. You may not want to attend social events, go shopping or even leave the house during the period around Halloween. It can be difficult to see friends and family during this time.
Children with samhainophobia may not want to go to school. They may refuse to go trick-or-treating or to go to Halloween-related events with their friends.
Some people experience panic attacks, which can lead to noncardiac chest pain and a racing heart rate. Constant worries about having panic attacks can result in a panic disorder that may require the long-term use of anti-anxiety medications.
You should call your healthcare provider if you have:
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Phobias such as samhainophobia can impact your quality of life, especially around Halloween. You may miss out on social events, spend less time with friends and family or become afraid to leave your house. Healthcare providers can help you overcome your fear of Halloween. Talk to your provider about treatments such as exposure therapy that can help reduce anxiety surrounding this holiday.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/10/2022.
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