What is Chionophobia?

Chionophobia is an irrational and intense fear of snow, and is categorized as a natural environment phobia. Natural environment phobias include other weather-related phobias like the fear of thunderstorms (astrophobia), the fear of wind (ancraophobia). According to the American Meteorological Society, natural environment phobias like chionophobia are the second most prevalent phobia subtype.

Chionophobia is also related to cheimaphobia and cheimatophobia (fear of of cold, being cold, cold things, cold air, frost or winter), cryophobiafrigophobia (fear of cold, cold things, being cold or freezing), pagophobiapsychrophobia (fear of cold or cold weather).

The root word “chiono” is Greek meaning “snow”.

Symptoms of Chionophobia

  • extreme anxiety, dread
  • shortness of breath
  • rapid breathing
  • heart palpitation
  • excessive sweating
  • nausea
  • dry mouth
  • confusion / inability to articulate clearly
  • lack of focus
  • irritability
  • diarrhea
  • shaking
  • feelings of powerlessness
  • obsession with the subject of the phobia
  • fear or feelings of losing control
  • avoidance behavior
  • headaches

Learn more about phobia symptoms

Causes of Chionophobia

One of the concerns that may give rise to this phobia is a fear of getting trapped in snow, which may in turn stem from growing up in a climate where heavy snowfall is normal.

Chionophobia may develop after traumatic events that are directly related to snow or ice, etc., such as a car accident caused due to snowy conditions.

A direct physiological cause can be looking at bright white snow causing eye pain. Chionophobia can even be developed from aquaphobia (fear of water), since snow is frozen water. It is considered a branch of pagophobia

Chionophobia is a specific (or “isolated”) phobia, centered on non-social key factors. Isolated phobias tend to have some previous trauma (often in childhood and often physically injurious) as a root cause; a fear of bees may stem from an injury in childhood, for instance.

Upbringing can also play a role, such as parental warnings about a direct threat (such as “snakes can bite and kill you”) which is especially notable in cases where a threat is more imminent. (An allergy to bees or peanut butter, for instance, would naturally reinforce a real medical concern.)

It is thought that genetics and hereditary factors may play a role in specific phobias, especially those related to a danger of injury. (A primal “fight or flight” reflex may be more easily triggered in those with a genetic predisposition, for instance.)

By contrast, social phobias (like a fear of body odor or touch) are less well understood, are driven by social anxiety and are broadly labeled as “social anxiety disorder”.

In all kinds of phobias, external experiences and / or reports can further reinforce or develop the fear, such as seeing a family member or friend who is affected. In extreme cases, indirect exposures can be as remote as overhearing a reference in conversation or seeing something on the news or on TV and movies.

Chionophobia, like most phobias, stems from a subconscious overprotection mechanism, and as with many phobias can also be rooted in an unresolved emotional conflict.

Learn more about the causes of phobias

Treatment for Chionophobia

  • Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)
  • Habit strategies to relax
  • Cognitive therapy (CT)
  • In vivo exposure
  • Response prevention
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Group therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Energy Psychology
  • Medication
  • Meditation

Learn more about phobia treatments


Book Shelf

The list of books below are hand picked by the staff at Massive Phobia. It's a mixture of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Habit Strategies, Trauma Healing, Mindfulness, Meditation, Buddhist Knowledge and Somatic Study. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.