Chionophobia is the extreme dislike or fear of snow. The word originates from Greek chion meaning snow and phobos meaning fear, aversion or dread.
People with Chionophobia often understand that their fear is unfounded and weird. However, they are unable to control it. Living with the phobia can get very difficult especially in winters or in places where snow is the way of life. Many phobics refuse to step outdoors owing to their phobia. Friends and family members might ignore the phobia, thinking that the person is simply trying to gain attention. However; to the sufferer, Chionophobia is a very real and serious phobia that can interfere with one’s daily life.
Causes of Chionophobia
Chionophobia usually originates due to a childhood traumatic event pertaining to snow. Having been hit very hard with a snow ball or being in an accident caused due to slippery roads etc can lead to permanent fear of snow. Along with snow come harsh weather conditions. Temperatures tend to fall below freezing. Being “snowed in” with power outages, frozen pipes, fallen trees etc are not pleasant experiences. Frost can form on windows of cars leading to seriously dangerous driving conditions. Shoveling snow off one’s yard can be backbreaking work, especially harder for elderly people living alone. Slipping on ice can lead to fractures that sometimes prove fatal.
Snow also brings freezing rain or icy sleet. Hard rime could form in such freezing conditions. Ice storms are known to claim many lives each winter. Airplanes also refuse to take off on account of ice formation on the wings and slippery icy runways. News reports pertaining to such incidents could stimulate anxious-minded individuals to fear snow greatly.
For some people, snow brings a plethora of joyful activities including skiing, making snowmen, playing snowball fights etc. However, a person fearing injuries could develop Chionophobia because of hazards involved in these activities.
Snow often accumulates for days until the warmth of spring thaws it. The yellow and black snow that accumulates on the sides of the roads can sometimes be hazardous. Children often eat such snow, resulting in diseases or injuries. Accumulated snow contains sharp objects, salts, chemicals, even bodily fluids. Those with extreme germ phobia tend to fear pathogens present in such accumulated snow.
Avalanches are very common in snowy, hilly areas. A person having the fear of being trapped alive could also suffer from Chionophobia.
People with an irrational fear of water might also develop an extreme fear of snow which is form of water. Other factors like hypothermia, frost bite and health issues related to snow can also lead to the phobia.
Finally, media, scientific shows on TV or movies like Day After Tomorrow which depict the possibility of another Ice Age can also cause an extreme fear of snow.
Symptoms of Chionophobia
Chionophobia can cause extreme symptoms like crying, screaming, feeling like fleeing or hiding, shaking, heart palpitations, depression, stomach disorders, vomiting, nausea and so on. Persons with this phobia who are forced to go out in the snow might even feel detached from reality or unable to express themselves clearly.
Treating the fear of snow phobia
Depending on the extent of the symptoms presented by Chionophobia, it is best to seek professional help. In some cases, the extreme fear might affect day to day life, work, career etc, so it is vital to not ignore the panic attacks; rather seek treatment to get to the bottom of the fear.
Hypnotherapy is a proven remedy for treating many social and specific phobias, including the fear of snow phobia. It relaxes the phobic deeply to help the therapist analyze the exact cause of the phobia and make him/her open to suggestions. The therapy has been proven to reduce the intensity and frequency of panic attacks experienced by sufferers of such extreme phobias.
Gradually exposing oneself to wintertime activities can also help reduce one’s anxiety regarding snow. Family and friends can help the phobic understand that not all snowstorms are dangerous, provided one takes necessary precautions. Self educating about different types of snow or weather conditions can also relax these fears.
These are some of the ways of dealing with Chionophobia.