What is Cryophobia?

Cryophobia is the persistent and irrational fear of extreme cold, ice, and frost and is naturally more common in people who live in cold climates.

Cryophobia is considered a specific phobia, closely related to Cheimaphobia and Cheimatophobia (fear of cold, being cold, cold things, cold air, frost or winter), Frigophobia (fear of cold, cold things, being cold or freezing), Pagophobia or Psychrophobia (fear of cold or cold weather).

Cryophobia is the opposite of Thermophobia (fear of heat or hot temperatures).

The root word 'kruos' is Greek meaning 'icy cold' or 'frost' and the word 'phobia' comes from the Greek word ‘phóbos’ meaning 'fear.'

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Symptoms of Cryophobia

  • Extreme Anxiety, Dread

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Confusion / Inability to Articulate Clearly
  • Lack of Focus
  • Irritability
  • 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 Cryophobia

Cryophobia 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, seeing something in the news, on TV, or in the movies.

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

While previous trauma may certainly be a factor, real concerns about severe cold are normal and rational, as freezing temperatures can cause hypothermia, frostbite, and even death. Snowboarding accidents or car accidents with loss of control due to ice are genuine concerns as well.

For others, a deep fear of cold weather may be due to increased ‘cabin fever’ and loneliness.

Learn more about the causes of phobias ›

Treatments for Cryophobia

  • 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 ›

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