What is Astraphobia or Fear of Thunder and Lightning: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors
What is Astraphobia or Fear of Thunder and Lightning?
There are some people in the world who are big fans of serious weather conditions consisted of rain, thunder and lightning. The love for storms can be so big that some individuals will go so far and study storms and get college degrees as storm experts, while other people only love to explore storms by themselves, without studying them at various universities.
On the other hand, a vast amount of people who are actually afraid to the bone of storms. The fear of thunder and lightning, a severe one, is called by psychiatrists and psyhologists as astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning.
Is Astraphobia or Fear of Thunder and Lightning Common?
It is normal to be afraid of thunders and storms, but when someone is irrationally afraid of storms, thunders, and lightnings, then he/she probably suffers from astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning. If you have thought to yourself that astraphobia is pretty rare, you thought wrong. Astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning is actually a very common phobia and one of the most present phobias in human beings.
Astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning can occur in the psyche of anyone, no matter what their age, sex, race, and nationality is. However, astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning is mostly seen in children and toddlers. It is believed that in the United States about 10% of population suffer of Astraphobia.
Astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning is not abnormal, though it is an irrational fear; it is normal because even animals like dogs, cats and cows experience astraphobia. Just like children, you can see many cats and dogs hiding somewhere during a thunderstorm and shaking from fear.
Is it a Phobia or a Natural Fear?
It is often hard to tell whether during thunderstorms or any other disturbing life events a childs' reaction to the storm or any other event is a phobic answer or a natural fear he or she is born with.
It is hard to distinct whether your kid's fear of thunder and lightning is natural or it is a phobic response, because children actually do not know a lot about the world surrounding them and are not aware which things are harmless and which are not, unlike the adult people.
Children tend to feel fears of many things as they grow up and learn which things surrounding them are dangerous and which are not. Seeing an afraid child is usually heartbreaking, but one great thing about it is that you can ease any kid easily not to think about anything that scares them. If your child shows fear during a thunderstorm then you can easily distract him from listening to the spooky storm sounds by talking to your child or playing certain games with it.
However, if your child is still afraid of storm even if you distract him from thinking about the storm and if your child shows the fear of thunders and storms, then you should go visit a psychologist to see if your child suffers from astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning.
If your child's fear of thunder and lightning is treated in the early stages, then there are little to no chances that your child's irrational fear would develop into some more serious phobias or mental health conditions, such as agoraphobia and depression.
Causes of Astraphobia or Fear of Thunder and Lightning
Natural fear of thunder and lightning is very common in children and toddlers. Most cases of mild astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning disappear over time. However, there are people whose astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning does not diminish over years and it gets worse in the adulthood. Such adult people generally have had some traumatic experience that involved thunderstorms or storms. The causes of astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning includes:
- Previous trauma is a major cause of astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning. Many people with astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning have developed it after experiencing an electric shock during a thunderstorm in the early childhood.
- Many individuals coping with astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning have been victims of floods, or have lost someone very close to them in a flood. That is why people with astraphobia fear thunder and rain, because they think that a worst case scenario will happen again or they will lose someone close.
- Nervous and anxious people are more prone for developing astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning.
Signs and Symptoms of Astraphobia or Fear of Thunder and Lightning
A person that suffers from astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning is completely obsessed with watching various weather channels and with watching weather prognosis. Individuals with Astraphobia check several times a day what is the weather going to be like to ensure there will not be any of their greatest fear- thunderstorms. An individual with the astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning might also install several lightning rods and protection from lightning on the roof of his house or the building he/she lives in. When a person with astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning hears a weather prognosis filled with thunderstorms, he/she starts to panic and gets anxiety attacks. There are a variety of psychological and bodily signs and symptoms of astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning, such as:
- Passing out frequently and being unaware for hours.
- Shaking, trembling, and excessive sweating.
- Rapid heart beats, heart palpations, shortness of breath.
- Feeling like one is about to choke.
- Hiding from the storm in various "shelters", such as basements, bathrooms, and closets.
- Looking out for the omens of storm constantly and obsessing about weather prognosis.
- Tantrums and panic attacks during a storm is a major symptom of astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning.
- Trying not to hear the sounds of the storm by closing all the windows, doors, and curtains in the house.
- Gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and nausea.
- Freezing at one place- fearing that one will be hit by the lightning if he/she keeps moving is a sign of astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning.
- Thinking about death
Astraphobia can often lead to another phobia called Agoraphobia, which is the fear of open space. That means that an individual with astraphobia is afraid to go outside because he/she think a lightning will strike him/her.
When to Pay a Visit to the Doctor for Astraphobia or Fear of Thunder and Lightning?
If either you or your kids show the symptoms of astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning that are stated above, and those symptoms persist for more than six months, then you should definitely pay a visit to your family physician.
If you are an adult person who avoids his/hers work obligations, family, attending the college due to the fear of thunder and lightning, then you should visit your family doctor immediately because your astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning is taking over you and making you function improperly and lowering your quality of life.
Likewise, if your kid is avoiding to attend school because it is afraid of going to school due to thunderstorms, then you should also visit a child psychiatrist, child psychologist, or your family doctor.
Risk Factors for Astraphobia or Fear of Thunder and Lightning
The factors listed down below increase an individuals' risk for the development astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning:
- Age is considered to be one of the risk factors for developing astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning as the this fear usually develops since childhood.
- Your Family. Yes, your family can be a risk factor for developing phobias. It is thought that this is true because some phobias can be inherited from your family members. The family risk factor is 100% considering that a child can "learn to fear." This means if someone in a child's family has the fear of spiders or the fear of the dark, and shows phobic reactions in front of a child, a child can learn to fear the exact same thing his relative is afraid of.
- A persons' temperament is also a risk factor for developing astraphobia or fear of thunder and lightning. Generally, persons who are very sensitive, inhibited, and pessimistic are more likely to develop certain irrational fears.