What is brontophobia?
This word would come from the Greek "bronte" which means "thunder" and "phobos" which means "fear". Therefore, brontophobia is an irrational fear of thunder and lightning. Sometimes, it is known as astraphobia, although this fear focuses more on the fact of being struck by lightning, while in brontophobia it is generally the fear of thunder and lightning and its consequences, such as a fire, and not only to the fact of being directly hit by lightning. It is usually common during childhood but, in some cases, it lasts into adulthood. It is part of those known as specific phobias, that is, you have an irrational fear of a specific situation or stimuli. Specific phobias are atype of anxiety disorder.
This fear begins when a storm is anticipated, for example, when listening to the weather forecast or when seeing the cloudy sky and in the person who suffers the fear, various physical, behavioral and psychological symptoms begin to emerge that end up affecting the well-being of the person. Next we will see specifically all the symptoms of brontophobia.
Symptoms of brotnophobia
The typical symptoms of brotnophobia can be separated into 3 categories:
- Physical / physiological symptoms : dizziness, increased heart rate, increased breathing rate, sweating, gastrointestinal problems, muscle tension.
- Cognitive symptoms : these refer to thoughts and emotions. Normally they are irrational ideas about the danger of one's life due to a storm, which leads to emotions of fear, anxiety among others.
- Behavioral symptoms : the person avoids places that terrify him. For example, if you see that there is going to be a storm, you will not leave the house, you will even stop going to work to avoid it. In the case of children, it is quite common for them to hide under a bed or table in order to feel more secure.
In some cases, agoraphobia may develop since the person may stop feeling safe every time they go out, so they choose to stay at home.
Causes of brotnophobia
If you have the symptoms of brotnophobia described above, it is normal for you to ask yourself "why am I afraid of storms?" Brontophobia is multi-cause, that is, it is caused by a set of factors:
- The causes may be due to having had a negative experience related to a storm or hearing that someone close to such an event has lived. These situations can be, for example, car accidents, electrical problems, etc.
- The fact that during childhood constant messages of the danger of storms were received can also end up causing the development of this type of phobias.
- Likewise, receiving messages about catastrophic events related to a storm can make the person end up fearing that they will experience such a situation in the future.
- On the other hand, like most psychological disorders, it is more likely to develop in people with a biological tendency to anxiety.
Treatment of brontophobia
The cognitive behavioral therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy are those that can most help solve these problems.
- Cognitive restructuring. In order to resolve the cognitive symptoms, irrational ideas related to fear would be worked on and new, more rational thoughts would be implanted in the person's mind and in accordance with reality. For this, techniques such as Socratic dialogue can be used.
- Relaxation. At a physical level, relaxation techniques would be trained to reduce these types of symptoms. By reducing the level of arousal for the person it will be easier to analyze the situation in a more rational and less emotional way. At the end of the article you will find a guided relaxation video.
- Live exhibition. At a behavioral level, the person would be gradually exposed to what they fear. To do this, first a list would be made with the different levels of fears related to the phobia. For example, the least scary thing related to the phobia is imagining a storm and the most scary thing is being on the street when there is a storm. The person would be exposed to the least causing situation first. This exposure will last until the anxiety is completely gone. It is important because if the person cuts the exposure before (either literally - to get rid of the situation - or imaginary - to think about something else to distract himself-), the next time he is exposed to that same situation, the anxiety level would be higher.
- Exhibition in imagination or virtual reality. Since the weather cannot be controlled, another option in addition to the imagined exposure is the use of virtual reality in order for the person to expose themselves to their fear in the most real and direct way possible. A problem with imagined exposure (imagining the situation that is feared) is that it depends on the imaginative capacity of the person.