Chromophobia (Fear of Colors)

Chromophobia is an intense fear of colors. Most people with this disorder have an extreme aversion to one or two colors in particular or they may only fear bright colors. People with chromophobia have severe anxiety or panic attacks when they see a color they are afraid of. Therapy and medications can help manage symptoms.


What is chromophobia?

Chromophobia (or chromatophobia) is an intense fear of colors. Most people with this disorder are afraid of one or two colors in particular. Others have a phobia of all colors, or they may only be sensitive to bright colors.

What are the fears your born with?

Natural fears

Spiders snakes the dark these are called natural fears developed at a young age influenced by our environment and culture.

People with chromophobia experience extreme discomfort or anxiety when they see a color that triggers their phobia. They may have trouble breathing, sweat a lot or even have a panic attack. Some people may avoid leaving their house and interacting with others. 

This can damage relationships and impact a person’s ability to work. Therapy and medications can help people manage this disorder.

Is chromophobia real?

Chromophobia is an intense fear of colors. Most people with this disorder have an extreme aversion to one or two colors in particular or they may only fear bright colors. People with chromophobia have severe anxiety or panic attacks when they see a color they are afraid of.

What is a phobia?

Phobias cause people to be afraid of a situation or an object that isn’t harmful. They are a type of anxiety disorder. People with phobias have unrealistic fears and abnormal reactions to things other people don’t find scary.

Chromophobia is a specific phobia disorder. People with specific phobia disorders have extreme reactions to a certain object or situation. They go to great lengths to avoid the things that cause their discomfort or fear.

How common is chromophobia?

It’s hard knowing exactly how many people have a specific phobia, like chromophobia (fear of colors). Many people may keep this fear to themselves or may not recognize they have it. We do know that about 1 in 10 American adults and 1 in 5 teenagers will deal with a specific phobia disorder at some point in their lives, though.

What colors are people afraid of?

Although it’s possible to be afraid of all colors, people with chromophobia are more likely to be fearful or anxious about one or two colors in particular. Specific color phobias include:

  1. Chrysophobia, fear of the color orange or gold
  2. Cyanophobia, fear of the color blue
  3. Kastanophobia, fear of the color brown
  4. Leukophobia, fear of the color white
  5. Prasinophobia, fear of the color green
  6. Rhodophobia, fear of the color pink
  7. Melanophobia, fear of the color black
  8. Xanthophobia, fear of the color yellow

Who is at risk of chromophobia?

You have a higher risk of developing a chromophobia if you have:

  1. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or sensory processing disorder
  2. Anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  3. History of panic attacks or panic disorder
  4. Mental illness, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  5. Mood disorders such as depression
  6. Other phobias
  7. Substance abuse disorder

What causes chromophobia?

  • Healthcare providers aren’t sure what exactly causes chromophobia. Like other specific phobia disorders, it probably results from a combination of genetics and environmental factors. People who have mental illness or anxiety problems are more likely to develop a phobia. 
  • Mental illness, mood disorders and phobias tend to run in families, too. So, you have a higher risk of these conditions if you have a relative who has them.
  • Chromophobia and other types of phobias can happen along with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If someone experiences a traumatic event that they associate with a specific color, an intense fear of that color can result. They remember the terrible feelings the event caused and connect those feelings to the color itself. As a result, every time the person sees that color, the bad feelings return.
  • People with autism, Asperger’s or sensory processing issues sometimes have an aversion to one color in particular. Although they may not actually have chromophobia, their symptoms may be similar. They may prefer certain colors and avoid colors that disgust them or cause discomfort.

What are the symptoms of chromophobia?

Children and adults with chromophobia have symptoms ranging from intense discomfort to a full panic attack. When they see a color they’re afraid of, they may have:

  1. Chills
  2. Dizziness and lightheadedness
  3. Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)
  4. Heart palpitations
  5. Nausea
  6. Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  7. Trembling or shaking
  8. Upset stomach or indigestion (dyspepsia)

People with this disorder may stay indoors because they worry about coming into contact with the color that triggers the phobia. Their fear of colors can lead to another type of anxiety disorder called agoraphobia. This disorder causes people to avoid certain situations from which they can’t escape. They often stay inside their homes and away from crowded places.

Symptoms of extreme fear

  1. Increased heart rate
  2. Faster breathing or shortness of breath
  3. Butterflies or digestive changes
  4. Sweating and chills
  5. Trembling muscles

Diagnosis and tests

How do healthcare providers diagnose chromophobia?

  • Healthcare providers diagnose chromophobia and other types of phobias during a thorough mental health evaluation. Your healthcare provider will discuss your symptoms, when they started and what triggers them.
  • Your healthcare provider may recommend talking to a mental health professional over the course of several weeks. A healthcare provider who specializes in anxiety disorders will ask about other phobias, mental illness or mood disorders. They’ll also ask about your family history of phobias, anxiety disorders and other mental illness.
  • Generally, people receive a diagnosis of chromophobia or another specific phobic disorder if they:
  • Experience extreme anxiety or panic attacks that last for six months or longer.
  • Go to great lengths to avoid the situation or object that’s causing distress.
  • Have symptoms that significantly impact their quality of life or damage relationships.

Management and treatment

How do you manage or treat chromophobia?

Some therapies, techniques and treatments can help people with color phobia manage their symptoms. These include:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) help you to think about your fears differently. Gain a new perspective and control your response to them.

Exposure therapy

Which gradually increases your contact with certain colors. Your healthcare provider may show you certain colors for a few seconds at a time to lower your sensitivity.


Uses guided relaxation while you are in a hypnotic (calm and responsive) state. During this time, your mind is more open to thinking about fears in a different way.


Which allows you to talk about your fears and find strategies that can help you overcome them.


Which can treat panic attacks and help manage other mental health disorders. Your healthcare provider may recommend anti-anxiety medications or medications to treat depression.

Relaxation techniques 

Breathing exercises, and meditation, which can help you control anxiety. You may also benefit from yoga and mindfulness exercises.

Reducing Caffeine 

It is no secret that consuming large amounts of caffeine throughout the day can aid in making you more anxious. This makes sense when we look closely at how caffeine affects our body’s physiology. 

When we consume a high dose of caffeine, our heart will start to beat faster and we become more tense. Essentially, our body will begin to go into a “fight or flight” state of mind. Such a frame of mind is often a precursor for someone with chromophobia to experience panic attacks.

So, consuming little to no caffeine throughout the day may be able to significantly help reduce your day to day anxiety. Although doing so will likely not make all of your anxiety go away, it will indeed help you to reduce any unnecessary suffering that you would have otherwise experienced if you were to consume a large amount of caffeine.

Beverages like coffee and tea are often high in caffeine, as well as some energy drinks. In fact, even some foods have caffeine in them as well, such as dark chocolate. Being more conscious of your daily caffeine consumption may help you to reduce some of the symptoms associated with chromophobia.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) 

  • DBT is a very effective form of treatment for people struggling with emotion regulation. It is often used to treat people suffering from borderline personality disorder. Nevertheless, it can also be very advantageous for someone suffering from anxiety disorders like chromophobia too. 
  • This is due to the numerous amount of coping skills you can expect to learn in a DBT group. These groups typically last about 6 months long and can have anywhere from two people to several people depending on how many join the group.
  • One very effective DBT skill for helping someone with chromophobia is half-smiling. This technique works by having you think about that which you fear or upsets you all while slightly raising the corners of your mouth by lightly smiling, thus the term “half-smiling.” Although, it isn’t enough to just think about your fear while half-smiling, you also have to try and refrain from entertaining those painful emotions that your specific fear may evoke.

Mindfulness meditation 

  • Is also heavily used in DBT and can greatly benefit someone with chromophobia. As it is done in a group setting, which helps to put the patient out of their comfort zone. These group mindfulness practices may include drinking warm tea to hone in on the sense of taste and tactile senses or simply focusing on the breat
  • Coping ahead is another very useful DBT skill that can help someone with chromophobia. With coping ahead, you will want to find a place where you can sit down quietly without distraction. 
  • Close your eyes and then think about the many different possible scenarios where you would face your specific fear and overcome it or cope with it. Doing so will help you to be much better adept at coping with your chromophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
  • Mindfulness has the potential to significantly help those suffering from chromophobia due to how it will help one to distract themselves from their fear by refocusing their attention onto something else that does not have any sort of emotional baggage attached to it, such as by focusing on the breath for example. This is one of the most basic ways that one can meditate and be present.
  • To implement mindfulness meditation to help relieve one’s symptoms of chromophobia, you can do so by paying close attention to the way the muscles in your abdomen and chest contract and relax with every inhale and exhale. You can spend time dwelling on how it feels as your chest expands during each inhale and how it sinks in with every exhale.


  • There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from chromophobia. Specifically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be quite beneficial for helping people to enter into a more equanimous state. 
  • There are many different ways with which you can implement mindfulness meditation and there are also many different meditation apps which are designed to make things as easy as possible for you.
  • For someone with chromophobia in the midst of a panic attack, redirecting one’s attention to the various sensations felt when breathing can actually help to reduce the amount of mental anguish experienced during such an influx of anxiety.
  • Besides focusing on your breathing, you can also focus on the sounds around you, the way your skin feels as you touch certain objects, the way foods taste, as well as the way certain aromas smell. 
  • Essentially, honing into your 5 senses can significantly help you to reduce some of the anxiety that is associated with chromophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.

What are the complications of chromophobia?

Severe chromophobia can have a devastating impact on your overall quality of life. People with this disorder tend to avoid everyday activities. In doing so, they may harm relationships with friends and family or lose their jobs. These losses can lead to social isolation, serious depression and worsening mental health.

What is the prognosis (outlook) for people who have chromophobia?

Therapy and medication can help people with chromophobia manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Ongoing treatment may be necessary.

When should you see your healthcare provider about chromophobia?

  • Call your healthcare provider if you or your child experiences extreme discomfort or anxiety when exposed to certain colors. You should get an evaluation if symptoms are severe or if anxiety or panic attacks are impacting your daily life.
  • Remember that kids often have phobias growing up. They usually outgrow them or learn to manage them. If your child has a persistent fear of colors that affects their everyday life, call their healthcare provider.

What questions should you ask your doctor?

To understand chromophobia, you may want to ask:

  1. What could be the cause of chromophobia?
  2. What type of therapy or treatment is right for me?
  3. What experience do you have with CBT, exposure therapy and other types of therapy?
  4. How do I know if I’ll need short-term or long-term therapy?
  5. Does having a specific phobia disorder increase my chances of developing other anxiety disorders or mental illnesses?
  • If you or your child has an extreme fear of colors, talk to your or their healthcare provider. In severe cases, chromophobia can cause people to avoid leaving home for fear of seeing a color that frightens them. 
  • Untreated, chromophobia can damage relationships and lead to trouble at work or school. Therapy, medications and other treatments (such as relaxation techniques) can help. Tell your healthcare provider if you or anyone in your family has a history of other phobias, mental illness or mood disorders.



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