Brontophobia is an irrational fear of thunder and lightening. This falls into the category of specific phobias. You may also hear it referred to as Keraunophobia, Astrapophobia, Astraphobia, and Tonitrophobia.
If you have Brontophobia you may feel like you are alone, however this fear tops the top ten list of the most common phobias that people have. It's estimated that 10% of the American population has this fear.
Someone who suffers from Brontophobia will experience immense anxiety when it's storming outside. Sufferers typically do a few things when they hear thunder and lightening. They will seek the comfort of another person. Typically those who are surrounded by other people can control their anxiety with verbal or physical reassurance that everything is fine.
When left home alone Brontophobia sufferers will typically not feel that just being under a roof is enough cover to protect them from the storm. They will tend to hide in small confined places where they feel the most safe. These places include under the bed, in the closet, and in the basement.
The sound of thunder rumbling and lightening striking typically increases the anxiety that sufferers feel. Drowning out these noises with headphones, a blaring television, or any other means of reducing the noise is common.
One very common symptom that all people that fear thunder and lightening do is check the weather often. This is considered more than necessary. They tend to check the forecast on the television on their phones and online multiple times throughout the day. They are worried when it may storm. They tend to start planning all of their activities around the storm. They will not go out to meet friends or other social gatherings when they know it will storm, for fear of getting stuck out in it.
In some cases, persons may experience a full blown anxiety attack. These symptoms are...
Rapid Heart Beat
Trembling / Shaking
Impeding Sense of Dying or Eternal Doom
As with many phobias, Brontophobia sufferers develop their fear of thunder and lightening throughout a variety of different causes. Let's take general look at what these are.
These sufferers have not experienced any sort of physical event with a storm, but rather have been instructed that thunder and lightening is bad. This form of instructional stimuli can be watching movies or news casts where stormy weather is reeking havoc on a community. For example, flooding washed out a house or one caught on fire due to a strike of lighting.
Reading books of past historical tragedies involving lightening storms can also depict fear from them. Lastly, kids who have parents who suffer from Brontophobia will receive instructional cures from their parents. This could be simple things such as hiding in the basement during a thunderstorm. Through these parental cues kids will learn to associate thunder and lightening with danger.
Direct Personal Experience
This is when a traumatic event happened in past of a sufferer's life that sparked their fear of thunder and lightening. This may be anything from a fire due to a lightening strike, to their house flooding from a heavy storm. Any traumatic event that happened is associated with danger in the sufferers mind.
This is when the sufferer doesn't endure the actual traumatic event themselves, but rather saw it happened to someone else. Things that fall into this category are when a person witnesses their neighbors house catch fire after a lightening strike. They witness the bad event happen to someone they care about and start to associate danger with the bad weather.
In general, three are typically three different ways to deal with your phobias and overpower them. Let's take a look at each different option you have.
The concept of why this works so well is that the patient starts to desensitize their fear with each new degree of exposure. Their brain gets used to the fear and starts to overcome it. Exposure therapy works to reprogram the brain's response to thunder and lightening, allowing your body to stop creating unwarranted anxiety when a storm strikes.
Also referred to as In Vivo Therapy, this is a very common approach a therapist will take to help their patient overcome their fear. This works by the therapist exposing the patient to different degrees of their fear, in this case thunder and lightening. This may start with pictures, then noises, then continue onto showing video footage or an actual storm outside.
Systematic Desensitization Therapy
This works similar to exposure therapy. However, the therapist will instead have the patient visualize being out in a storm. They will ask them a series of questions to help them better understand where their fear is created and the things that specifically spike the patient's anxiety.
When anxiety levels start to spike the therapist will coach the patient with a number of relaxation and breathing techniques to help relieve their anxiety. This helps the patient learn to apply these techniques when they start to experience anxiety due to thunder and lightening. This allows the patient to remain calm during the storm. This is a way of controlling the phobia.
With a variety of self-help products out there, it's clear that Americans seem to face a lot of phobias. These programs are developed to help you step-by-step take back control of your life. It will allow you to stop planning your life around your phobia and stop losing your focus when you become exposed to the fear.
These are all about working through your problem yourself. This is a great option for those who would rather not talk to anyone else about their condition, but would rather like to keep it to themselves. Also this is much cheaper than talking with a therapist.