What is astraphobia, and how we treat it?
Are you afraid of lightning? Do thunderstorms cause you to crouch and hide? Do you have a physical reaction when a storm starts, such as sweating palms or chest pain? Astraphobia is the term for the exaggerated fear of thunderstorms and lightning.
And not only children but adults can suffer from this exaggerated and irrational fear of thunderstorms and lightning. This common phobia can affect animals, too, so don’t be surprised when your dog starts to yell and hide under the bed during a severe storm. The term „astraphobia” is derived from the Greek words „astrape,” which means lightning and „Phobos,” which means fear. Astraphobia can adversely affect and limit your lifestyle, but it can be treated.
What is astraphobia?
A person who has astraphobia will frequently check the weather report. If she finds out that a storm is coming, the person will change her plans at any risk. And when such a storm occurs, he may be so afraid that he will be able to enter a closet in the house and hide.
People with thunderstorms and lightning phobia can avoid situations in which a storm could occur, such as camping. Astraphobia can cause them to irrationally abandon their plans to avoid bad weather, even if it is only a small storm. The good news for those who have astraphobia is that this condition can be treated.
Astraphobia is also called:
Why does astraphobia occur?
Astraphobia can be attributed to evolution, instinct, and natural psychological response. It can be instinctive, learned, or it can appear as a result of trauma. From an evolutionary point of view, it is logical to want to avoid a storm as this can be a real danger. However, if you have an overwhelming physical reaction to a storm when you know you are safe in a home, then it is a condition that can overcome you.
If someone has had a traumatic experience related to thunderstorms and lightning, or if he witnessed someone else being injured by thunderstorms and lightning, he may be more likely to develop astraphobia. And those who are generally prone to anxiety and fear may be more likely to develop this phobia.
Also, children with autism and those with sensory processing problems tend to develop astraphobia more frequently than others because they are more sensitive to sound.
What are the symptoms of astraphobia
People who have astraphobia may feel panic before and during a thunderstorm. This phobia can cause symptoms such as:
- Chest pain
- Palpitations and an increased pulse
- Difficulty breathing
- Sweaty hands
- An obsessive desire to monitor the storm
- The willingness to stand by someone else to feel protection during a storm
- Screams and crying (especially for children)
- Awareness that these feelings are irrational and exaggerated
People with astraphobia may also feel the need to hide from lightning and thunder in a closet, bathroom, bathtub, or under the bed
How can we treat Astraphobia?
Treat your Astraphobia by Virtual Reality
Exposure to virtual reality saves money and time, although it is not available everywhere.
In Romania, at ID Therapy Bespoke Treatment Center, you can overcome this fear of thunderstorms and lightning with the help of virtual reality.
Cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy is a brief-therapy approach. It can be done individually or in a group setting, and it focuses intensely on a particular problem and is goal-oriented. It is designed to change negative or wrong thinking patterns and replace them with more rational ways of thinking.
The psychotherapist can encourage you to keep a journal of anxiety. In the journal, you can notice when a storm comes, and if you think that if you don’t hide in the closet, something terrible will happen (such as a lightning strike on your house or a tree falling on the house).
Then, you will examine together with psychotherapist your negative thoughts. During treatment, this negative way of thinking it will be gradually replaced by evidence-based thinking that will help you manage your anxiety.
Exposure psychotherapy offers opportunities for people struggling with specific phobias to face their fears, being gradually exposed to the things that frighten them over time. For example, you will encounter thunderstorms or triggers related to storms while under supervision in a controlled environment.
Although real storm exposure is a viable treatment, more and more research shows that virtual reality can be just as effective.
Breathing techniques, mindfulness, and progressive muscle relaxation may also help treat astraphobia.
In addition to psychotherapy, the specialist may recommend specific anxiolytics. These drugs can help reduce the stress you feel before or during storms.
Do not regularly check weather apps. Compulsive weather checkups can cause a person with astrophobia to believe he or she is safe, but in reality, this feeds anxiety. Try to limit yourself to checking the weather only in the morning, so you can dress appropriately, but resist checking the weather application several times a day.
Appeal to specialized psychotherapy services. You can even ask the psychotherapist to do a „home visit” during a storm, so you can practice deep breathing and get counselling during a real storm.
Mental health and meditation applications are also an easy and accessible option for astraphobia. Some apps offer therapy sessions, applications that provide guided relaxation techniques, and applications that allow you to keep an anxiety journal.
Share to your loved ones that you have an irrational fear of thunder and lightning and ask for help. It will reduce the additional anxiety you have about missing out on important events of close people.
Surprisingly, knowing the sporadic cases of death due to lightning strikes will not diminish the irrational fear you have. During a storm, to self soothe, count back from 200 to 1, with a break of 2 seconds. Or talk on the phone. These things will regulate your breathing. Also, remember how many times you were home alone during a storm, and nothing terrible happened!
You may feel that you will not be able to overcome this fear, especially if it is something that started in childhood, but if you seek treatment, you will be able to overcome your fear of thunderstorms and lightning
Schedule your session with ID Therapy Specialist
Dr. Nadia Gorduza is the only psychotherapist and trainer in Romania specialized in Therapy through Virtual Reality for Phobias and Addictions.
Dr. Nadia Gorduza represents Virtually Better Inc. USA in Romania
Schedule now a psychotherapy session
Address: Naum Ramniceanu Street, no. 23, ap. 1,
Sector 1, Bucharest, Romania