Do You Have Samhainophobia, the Fear of Halloween?

Do You Have Samhainophobia, the Fear of Halloween?

It’s the spookiest time of year, and although most kids and adults love joining in the frightful fun of Halloween, some people dread the annual holiday. If you’re filled with anxiety or experience sheer terror at the thought of October 31st festivities, you may have a mental health condition known as samhainophobia—the fear of Halloween.

The Roots of Halloween

The term samhainophobia has its roots in an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain that began some 2,000 years ago. Celebrated on October 31, the final day of the Celtic calendar year, it was viewed as a time when the division between the living and the dead became blurred. This allowed ghosts to cross over into the living world, where they could perform evil deeds if they so desired. People wore masks and costumes as a way to appease the roaming spirits to prevent them from their evil-doing. It’s easy to see how the Samhain rituals evolved into our modern-day Halloween trick-or-treating tradition.

From Fright to Phobia

Samhainophobia is more than just a general dislike or a mild uneasy feeling for Halloween. It’s what mental health professionals refer to as a “specific phobia.” Phobias are real, and they are considered a type of anxiety disorder that causes people to experience intense, unfounded fears that get in the way of daily life. Approximately 19 million Americans have some type of phobia.

If the thought of Halloween makes your heart race, causes your hands to tremble, or gives you a choking sensation, these are signs you may have a phobia. Other symptoms associated with phobias include nausea, sweating, dizziness, and panic. Children with samhainophobia may cry uncontrollably, act overly clingy, or throw temper tantrums when Halloween rolls around.

If you have a fear of the holiday, you may find it hard to go to work or to concentrate on your projects if the office is filled with Halloween decorations. If your child suffers from samhainophobia, they may be afraid of holiday-related events at school, and their coursework may suffer.

If you notice any of these symptoms or they interfere with your ability to perform your everyday activities and responsibilities, it’s a good idea to visit a mental health professional. 

What Causes Fear of Halloween?

Experts agree that many factors play into the development of samhainophobia. For example:

  • Family history: If you have a family member who has one or more phobias, you may be at a greater genetic risk of developing one too. And if a close relative is terrified of Halloween, they may transfer their fears to you through learned response.
  • Emotional trauma: If you experienced a truly frightening event related to Halloween, it can trigger a lasting irrational fear. Perhaps your parents took you to a haunted house attraction that was too scary for your age, or maybe something traumatic happened while you were trick-or-treating as a child.
  • Related phobias: Some people’s fear of Halloween may be triggered in part due to related phobias, such as hemophobia (fear of blood), nyctophobia (fear of the dark), arachnophobia (fear of spiders), phasmaphobia (fear of ghosts), or wiccaphobia (fear of witches or witchcraft).

In addition to these direct links to the fear of Halloween, there are other hidden factors that might increase your risk of developing a phobia. These include:

  • Abnormal brain activity: Brain imaging studies have pinpointed abnormal activity in certain brain regions in people who have phobias or other anxiety disorders.
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): Having a head injury as a child—such as falling off your bike, tripping on your way down the stairs, or falling out of the top bunk bed—makes you more vulnerable to anxiety disorders, including phobias, later in life.
  • Exposure to toxins or infections: Exposure to toxins (such as toxic mold) or having a chronic infection (such as Lyme disease) raises the risk of anxiety disorders, including phobias.

How to Overcome Your Fear of Halloween

If you suffer from excessive anxiety about Halloween, take heart that there are ways to work through it.

  • Deep breathing: When your fear of Halloween hits, you’re more likely to take shallow breaths, which delivers less oxygen to your brain. Anything that reduces oxygen to the brain can trigger feelings of anxiety and panic. Slow your breathing by inhaling for 3 seconds and exhaling for twice as long.
  • Psychotherapy: Many forms of psychotherapy are helpful in the treatment of phobias.
  • Hypnotherapy: Hypnosis allows you to transition to a state of deep relaxation. A growing body of scientific evidence shows that it can decrease anxiety and depression and reduce the fight-or-flight response that some people experience when faced with their phobias.
  • Natural supplements: Nutraceuticals, such as GABA, magnesium, and vitamin B6, promote relaxation.

A word of caution about medications: Although some healthcare professionals may prescribe pharmaceuticals to people who have phobias, be aware that brain imaging studies show that anti-anxiety pills, such as benzodiazepines, are harmful to the brain. It is best to avoid them.

Amen Clinics has helped thousands of people overcome all types of anxiety disorders, including phobias. We use brain SPECT imaging to help identify which type of anxiety you have and to help find the least toxic, most effective personalized solutions as part of a brain-body approach to healing.

If your phobia is affecting your work, school, home life, or relationships, speak with a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or schedule a visit online.


  1. I’m not “afraid”, I am a follower of Christ, not satan. As such, I refuse to celebrate a demonic day. There is NOTHING positive about this day.

    To celebrate death and the demonic, you are foolish.

    Comment by Sue A — October 25, 2019 @ 4:16 AM

  2. I agree with Sue A. It was started out of superstition and because of it’s emphasis against ghosts, which there is no such thing, but there are demonic spirits. Watch any testimony on Youtube from a former Satanist who came to Christ and you will find how important this holiday is to these cults. Most churches provide an alternative of fall festivals to keep the kids safe and some churches use the opportunity to turn it around for teenagers by having a venue to show the realities of hell and the realities of heaven and give a gospel presentation to all those who come through so that they have the opportunity to trust in Jesus Christ and become a Christian. Over the years it has overshadowed the celebration of Thanksgiving which is focused on thankfulness to God. If I had my we would eliminate the holiday but I know this world will never do that. I am not afraid of Halloween because I am a Christian and am covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. Christians should always pray against the evil that happens during that day from all of the Witches Covens and Satanic Cults that do who knows what to celebrate.

    Comment by Richard T — October 25, 2019 @ 8:28 AM

  3. I totally agree with Sue A and Richard! Have NOTHING to do with this “holiday”! Close all doors, turn off all lights, and go to your prayer room and pray against it!

    Comment by Debra — October 25, 2019 @ 2:45 PM

  4. I agree with Sue and Richard % as a Christian also. Great job on explaining the demonic roots of this holiday Richard and how Christians should have no part of celebrating it. Thanks! You cannot partake of the table of the demons and of God at the same time.

    Comment by Bonnie — October 26, 2019 @ 9:06 AM

  5. Amen, Sue, Richard and Debra! We don’t fear, we choose not to partake in the demonic holiday. The world is blind.

    Comment by Amy G — October 26, 2019 @ 6:26 PM

  6. I don’t fear either, because I love Jesus and am protected by Him. I do, however, plan HEALTHY treats for the kids that come to my door, and give them children’s papers that tell about the love of Jesus.

    Comment by Ruth — October 27, 2019 @ 5:49 AM

  7. Lighten up folks! When our kids wren young, we used halloween to explore the drama of costuming and pretend. Giving kids a sense of fun and balance is good for their development. BOO!

    Comment by Lee Brooks — October 29, 2022 @ 6:39 AM

  8. I've studied for many years what goes on during this holiday and it is dreadful. Human sacrifice happens on this night because it is very important time to those who claim to be witches and warlocks. I normally turn out lights and don't answer door. It's easy for me now because my children are grown. With small children it isn't so easy, tho, to ignore it. I normally pray to cancel the wicked prayers of harm prayed by satanic worshipers against Christians on that night. If we really knew what happens out of sight on Halloween it would not be called "happy".

    Comment by Kathy — October 31, 2022 @ 3:34 AM

  9. I'm getting pretty tired of explaining to people that Samhainophobia is a real thing. My family loves Halloween. My workplace is throwing a "Spooktacular" to celebrate how well we did this year. But every bit of it makes me feel genuinely sick and powerless. I can't even look at a simple autumn decoration like a pumpkin without feeling extremely uncomfortable, like I can't speak and even if I did there would be no one to listen. I have to come up with excuses to avoid some people's houses at that time of year because they get overzealous and I can't handle it. I have to avoid certain aisles in stores starting in September and lasting all the way through Thanksgiving because they get their stuff out early and keep it out on sale after it's all said and done. What's almost worse than the actual illness is that I feel completely alone in this. Even when I look for groups online where maybe there might be someone to talk to who shares my problem who might understand, or when I try to explain it to someone, they all bring up religion. This is not a religious objection on my part. I'm just terrified constantly, through all of October and beyond, and I can't express it in a way that the people near me understand.

    Comment by Nora — October 15, 2023 @ 1:40 AM

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