Astrapophobia is another common phobia. According to research this phobia is third among citizens of the United States. While it can affect people at any age, children who suffer from this fear should not necessarily be labeled as astraphobic. According to the phobia dictionary, astrapophobia is the fear of thunder and lightning. If a person fears only thunder and that is known as brontophobia.
A person who suffers from astrapophobia will feel anxious during a thunderstorm even if they know that there is no threat to them. As with many other anxiety-based phobias symptoms of astrapophobia may include trembling, panicked reactions, nausea, feeling of dread, sweating, crying, a sudden need to use the bathroom, and rapid heart rate. A person who suffers from astrapophobia will often seek reassurance from other people during the thunderstorm. This means for those people, having to face the thunderstorm alone can actually make the symptoms worse.
A person who suffers from astrapophobia may seek additional shelter during a thunderstorm. They may hide under a bed, in a basement, inside a closet, under the covers, or anywhere else they may feel safe. Efforts may also be made to drowned out the sound of a thunderstorm such as turning up the volume on a television, covering their ears, or drawing the curtains and shades on a window.
Patients with this phobia will also have a heightened interest in the weather forecast. This person will always be on the alert for incoming storms. They may even obsess about the weather by watching the weather channels and weather reports continuously during bouts of rain. They may even go to the extreme of tracking thunderstorms online. A person with this phobia may not even venture outside their home before checking the weather several times. Because of this this condition can lead to agoraphobia making it almost impossible for them to leave the house.
Researchers believe that the fear of thunderstorms may stem from childhood. Children who are raised around others suffering from astrapophobia may gain this fear themselves. Many children naturally fear thunderstorms but learn to cope and conquer this fear as they mature. For this reason children are not generally classified with astrapophobia unless they suffer from this phobia for more than six months. To help a child who is suffering from this fear fearless adults can be a role model. They can teach the child to be distracted by giving them games and activities or even approach the storm as a form of entertainment.
Those that live with animals may also notice that their animals have a tendency to exhibit severe anxiety during a thunderstorm. While this may not be a direct cause for why some humans have astrapophobia there can be a link between those owners who are really in tune with their pet and those owners who also suffer from this fear.
Based on information from the phobia dictionary, the most effective treatment for astrapophobia is exposure. Cognitive behavior therapy uses different types of desensitization techniques to expose the sufferer to lightning and thunderstorms. During their exposure these patients will learn how to cope and soothe themselves lessening the fear. Learning of phrases to repeat or heavy breathing exercises is examples of some methods.
Astrapophobia maybe the third most common phobia in the United States that it is no less treatable than any other phobia. Through the use of proper techniques and cognitive behavior modification patients can learn to overcome their fear. Some patients do turn to hypnotherapy to help them conquer their fear, however, there is little research to indicate how well hypnosis works in these conditions.