Treatment for Astraphobia or Fear of Thunder and Lightning
There are several treatment options present for treating the astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning. Medicines for treating astraphobia are a part of treatment only in severe cases. The following are the treatment options for those living with astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning:
Exposure Therapy to Treat Astraphobia or Fear of Thunder and Lightning
The main purpose of the expousure therapy for treating astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning is to take out completely the fear from a person and to study individual’s reaction to fear. A psychological therapist tries to face the person suffering from astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning to confront with a real thunderstorm if it is possible to do so. If it is not possible for a therapist to face a person with astraphobia to confront a thunderstorm in the open air, then the therapist can play a video or audio of a thunderstorm.
After playing the audio or video of a real thunderstorm, therapist measures the level of fear in his client with astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning and how does it occur in client. By exposing the patient several times to his fear, the therapist tries to lower the amount of fear in client by telling him to use relaxation techniques while being exposed to the thunderstorm.
Common relaxation techniques used in the exposure therapy are breathing exercises, mental visualization, and self-talk. All of the before mentioned relaxation techniques calm down the mind during a stressful situation.
Another Way to Treat Astraphobia or Fear of Thunder and Lightning is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
While the exposure therapy gives great results in treating patients with astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning, it should not be practiced without practicing together with it the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT.
Exposure therapy is mainly focused on teaching the patient how to control its fear and panic, CBT for treating astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning is focused on changing the patient’s thoughts about its fear associated with thunderstorms. The CBT therapist will have a one-on-one talking session with the patient. The patient will expose all of its negative thoughts about thunderstorms to the therapist, who will later on try to change the negative thoughts about thunderstorms in the patient with positive thoughts.
Medicines for Treating Astraphobia or Fear of Thunder and Lightning
A psychiatrist will very rarely prescribe certain medicines in the course of treating astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning. Medicines in treating astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning are only prescribed when the phobia is very severe. The medicines that are usually prescribed for phobias are anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medicines.
Prevention of Astraphobia or Fear of Thunder and Lightning
If you suspect you have an irrational fear, then it best for you to visit your family doctor or a psychologist immediately so as to prevent it from getting worse. Do not let astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning and irrational fears destroy your life.
You should especially take care and not expose your phobic reactions in front of your children, because children can “learn fear.” If you have children, or you are pregnant, it is very important to seek help and treat your phobias and not to expose your child to your fears.
Coping Tips for Astraphobia or Fear of Thunder and Lightning
People that live with astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning are often times experiencing big amounts of stress due to their fear and the ridicule they are sometimes exposed to. Fortunately, there are several ways one can cope with astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning and learn how to minimize the fear:
- Using a calming mantra is a good way to cope with astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning. Create a mantra that you will chant during a thunderstorm. Let that mantra be some word that is associated with something that makes you happy. Many therapists think that if you chant a mantra during an event that makes you scared, you will not think anymore about your fear and how scared you are, but you would rather feel happy chanting a mantra that means a lot to you and calms you.
- Controlled breathing exercises are excellent coping strategies for astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning. When you practice Controlled Breathing Exercises, you will keep your body in the state of homeostasis and you will not be prone to panic attacks. You can learn a lot about controlled breathing by starting to practice yoga asanas and breathing exercises at the comfort of your home.
- Another way to cope with astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning is by replacing negative thought patterns with positive ones. Sit down for a moment and try to figure out what do you think about during a storm. What are your thoughts during the storm? Are they chaotic? Paranoid? To keep the track on your thoughts during a storm, we recommend you to keep a journal close to you during a storm and write all of the thoughts that pass through your head during a storm. If you are so scared of a storm that you cannot even write your thoughts, then you can imagine a storm is coming and write down your thoughts and feelings in that moment. Once you become aware of what your thought pattern during a storm looks like, try to change that thought pattern with a positive thought pattern.
- Stay calm during and after the storm. The very next time a storm comes, try to put into action all of the coping skills mentioned above- Calming Mantra, Controlled Breathing Exercises, Replacing Negative Thought Patterns. Put the coping skills into action during the storm and see if you can achieve a total peace of mind until the storm comes to its end. Combining the three coping skills will help your brain, where the fear is created, to learn not to create the phobic reaction during a thunderstorm.
If you are practicing positive thinking instead of negative thinking and you use relaxation techniques during storms, you will teach your brain that there is actually nothing to be afraid of.
Besides the coping skills, you might also try something that is known as “systematic desensitization,” which is something that is difficult to try out as a self-help technique when it comes to astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning, but why not try it? Systematic Desensitization involves teaching yourself to get used to the various parts of the thunderstorm until the moment storms do not produce fear inside you.
Here is the systematic desensitization process for astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning:
- Think about thunderstorms excessively until the very thoughts about storms do not provoke fear inside you.
- Look at the photos of thunderstorms until the moment you are not afraid of the photos.
- Watch thunderstorm videos until you are not afraid of the videos.
- Play thunderstorm sounds loudly until the moment you are not afraid of thunderstorm sounds.
Complications in Astraphobia or Fear of Thunder and Lightning
The society we live in today considers that most of the phobias are rather silly. However, to the people who suffer from astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning, they are not silly at all to them, but rather they are devastating to them. Phobias are devastating to people living with them, because of the certain complications such as:
- Social isolation can be a complication of astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning. People who live with phobias are at high risk of developing agoraphobia, which causes them to avoid all public places and avoid social activities. That means many individuals living with phobias will avoid their education, work, and visiting their family just because of their irrational fears. Social isolation is a very scary and devastating complication and aspect of living with phobias.
- People that live with astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning have a complication of developing depression. Developing depression and living with a phobia can be devastating.
Tests to Diagnose Astraphobia or Fear of Thunder and Lightning
There are no laboratory tests for diagnosing astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning and the question is will they ever be. Instead of going to a laboratory to check if you have astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning, you should pay a visit to your family doctor or psychologist, and each of them can give you a diagnosis of phobia based on a clinical interview and several other things. Your psychologist or doctor will ask you several questions considering your medical, social and psychiatric history.
To be 100% diagnosed with a phobia, you must meet certain criteria for phobias written and described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is issued by the American Psychiatric Association.