Astraphobia is the fear of thunder and lightning. Oftentimes, many people are happy to experience the rainy season while others, not so much. You may have witnessed a child cower and hide when it rains and there’s a thunderstorm. This is because astraphobia commonly affects children, even though many adults are also afraid of thunderstorms. Astraphobia is one of the most common types of specific phobias and we are going to discuss the causes, triggers, and the available treatment of this phobia in this article.
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Astraphobia otherwise known as brontophobia is defined as a person’s intense fear of thunder and lightning. The phobia is more common in children even though it can grow into adulthood.
Whenever there is lightning or thunderstorm, people with astraphobia feel extremely frightened and develop anxiety. It is quite common to find many people with this condition obsessively glued to their Television in anticipation of the weather reports.
In some cases, the weather forecast is enough for them to have panic attacks. Aside from children being the most with this phobia, people with an autism spectrum disorder or sensory processing disorders are also affected by the phobia as they fear storms.
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Astraphobia is not only a phobia for humans as it also often affects animals. According to researchers, there is no specific data about people living with astraphobia but as a specific phobia, it is estimated that about 8% of adults will deal with a specific phobia in a year.
Astraphobia is also more common in women than men. This may be because women are two times more likely to have one specific phobia than men.
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There is no known reason why people have astraphobia or what causes the phobia. However, as with many other specific phobias, it can be traced back to genetics and environmental factors.
For some people, a traumatic event during a storm in their childhood can lead to astraphobia. While in some other cases, people with a family history of astraphobia or anxiety may get the phobia passed down to them through genes.
Hence, a person is more likely to develop astraphobia if the parents or relations have the condition. Also, there are unique cases of people developing astraphobia for no known reason.
Astraphobia can be triggered by a faraway rumble of thunder and even by merely watching the weather broadcast about possible rain downpours. Other things such as lightning can trigger anxiety and panic attacks in someone with this phobia.
Astraphobia can also be triggered if a person is consistently exposed to thunderstorms. Another thing that can trigger this phobia is when a person persistently avoids thunderstorms or have intense distress when one is occurring.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social phobia, and panic disorder are also other factors that can trigger astraphobia.
Many people with astraphobia are aware that their fear of lightning or thunderstorm is not rational but they can’t help their fears regardless. The most common sign or symptom of astraphobia is overwhelming fear.
Other astraphobia symptoms are very similar to the symptoms obtainable in other types of anxiety disorders. These symptoms include:
Astraphobia conditions can cause debilitating fear and an increased sense of social isolation in the people who live with the condition. This is why it is important to go for regular checkups.
If you recognize any of the symptoms listed above, contact your healthcare provider to determine if you have astraphobia. Because some symptoms of anxiety may also be associated with another mental health diagnosis.
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The treatment for astraphobia is often the same as the treatment approaches for other phobias. Once you have been properly diagnosed, your health care provider may recommend that you undergo exposure therapy.
Exposure therapy can help you to gradually become less afraid of whatever causes fear. For example, your healthcare provider might expose you to images of lightning and encourage you to listen to recordings of thunder.
Over time, you will get comfortable and be calm during a real-life storm. Most people that have completed exposure therapy recommend it as highly effective.
Another alternative treatment for astraphobia is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) also known as talk therapy. CBT can help you identify fearful thoughts and replace them with calm and helpful ones.
Your psychiatrist may also prescribe some anti-anxiety medications that are useful for the management of your symptoms. Some of these medications can also prevent you from having panic attacks when a storm is forecasted.
You can also practice some stress management techniques and coping strategies to lessen your anxiety symptoms. For example, you can practice aerobic exercise, and learn breathing techniques that can calm you down.
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Astraphobia involves the fear of lightning and thunderstorms while acrophobia is solely the fear of height. The two phobias share some similarities in their symptoms but they are not the same.
Acrophobia is recognized by the American Psychiatrist Association as a distinct psychiatric diagnosis while astraphobia is not recognized and it is only classified as a specific phobia.
While a person with acrophobia may be afraid of being far from the ground, a person with astraphobia is afraid of being struck by lightning or hearing the roar of thunder.
There is no certain way to prevent a person from having astraphobia, but there are good ways to manage it. It is very important that you constantly visit the hospital for evaluation if you notice any sign of this phobia.
Also, learn to reaffirm yourself and keep practicing your coping techniques after a thunderstorm.
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