Also known as astraphobia, astrapophobia, keraunophobia, tonitrophobia or nicaduranaphobia – brontophobia is the abnormal and persistent fear of thunder and lightning.
Derived from the Greek “bronte” (thunder) and “phobos” (fear), brontophobia is one of the 10 most common phobias in the world. While a person may rationally understand that the thunder holds no danger for them, this often fails to ease their fears. Without help a sufferer can become extremely agitated during storms.
For lots of people, the fear of lightning and thunder starts at an early age, when as children, they hide under the covers during a serious storm. Brontophobia can be especially overwhelming for small children. Many scared children feel powerless during bad weather, and their parents often feel helpless to help them cope with their fears.
Symptoms of Brontophobia
People who suffer from brontophobia will often be filled with anxiety during thunderstorms, even if they are safely in their home. Loud, startling thunder and flashes of lightning can spark anxiety, panic attacks, an intense sensation of fear, crying, sweating and a rapid heartbeat while the person is in the grip of the phobia.
Unique to this group of fears, however, is the interesting fact that most brontophobics will search out company to reassure them during a storm. This can drastically reduce the severity of their symptoms.
People with brontophobia try to avoid the sights and sounds of storms and may try to “hide” from one, covering their ears or climbing into closets. They might continually check weather reports and behave extra cautiously during bouts of bad weather. To others, these actions may seem obsessive and paranoid. People afflicted with the phobia may find this fear gradually taking control of their lives.
Dangers of Brontophobia
In extreme cases, brontophobics can become obsessed with watching weather reports and tracking storms during rainy weather. Sometimes, they may even refuse to leave the house without checking the weather first to know that they are going to be “safe” from the object of their fear. Occasionally this even leads into a kind of agoraphobia, where the sufferer refuses to leave their house because no place else is safe. The panic attacks can also have a detrimental effect on a person’s body, with symptoms getting worse over time if not treated correctly.
Treatment for Brontophobia
Distraction is often the first key to treating brontophobia, which is one of the reasons having company during a storm can help abate the symptoms. If the phobia is more severe, then professional help may be required.
Nearly all phobias are connected to negative imagery or stimuli, which become connected to fear deep within the unconscious mind.
Checklist For Brontophobics
• Intense and constant fear during thunder, rainstorm and lightning
• Distressed and anxious whenever any thunderstorm is anticipated but not really occurring
• Realization that the fear is irrelevant and excessive (except in children)
• Increased alertness and checking weather forecasts before going anywhere outside
• Trying to avoid the weather by any means such as hiding in a closet, covering with blankets or not leaving the house at all
• Clingy behavior towards a loved one and guardians (only in children)
• Panic attacks accompanied by physical signs such as trembling, abdominal pain, trouble in breathing, heart palpitation, chest pain, frequent urination, numbness around limbs, feeling of being out of control, nausea and sweating