Astraphobia is the fear of thunder and lightning. It typically affects children, but many adults still deal with a fear of thunderstorms. Astraphobia is one of the most common specific phobias. Treatment such as talk therapy or medication can help you manage anxiety symptoms and live a higher quality of life.
Astraphobia is an intense fear of thunder and lightning. The phobia is more common in children, but it can last into adulthood. Astraphobia often also affects animals.
People with astraphobia feel extreme anxiety or debilitating fear when preparing for a thunderstorm. They may watch weather reports obsessively or have panic attacks (rushes of anxiety that cause intense physical symptoms) during a storm. Another name for astraphobia is brontophobia.
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Children are more likely to have astraphobia. Those with sensory processing disorders or autism spectrum disorder are likelier to fear storms, too.
You are also more likely to have astraphobia if you have:
Astraphobia is one of the most common specific phobias. Over a 12-month period, about 8% of adults deal with a specific phobia. Specific phobias are around two times more common in women than men.
Experts don’t know exactly what causes astraphobia. For some people, a traumatic childhood event during a storm can lead to astraphobia.
You’re also more likely to develop astraphobia if a parent or sibling has the condition. Sometimes, people develop astraphobia for no known reason.
Like other phobias, the main symptom of astraphobia is overwhelming fear. Many people are aware that the fear they feel is not proportional to a storm’s actual threat. But it can be difficult to manage symptoms.
The anxiety you might experience with astraphobia can cause physical symptoms, such as:
Your healthcare provider may ask you questions to determine if you have astraphobia. Sometimes, anxiety symptoms relate to another mental health diagnosis.
Your healthcare provider might ask if you’ve experienced:
Astraphobia treatment is often similar to treatment approaches for other phobias. Your healthcare provider might try:
Weather-related anxiety is common in children. If you have a child who is afraid of thunderstorms, you can help them by:
If your child has extreme distress over storms, talking about the storm at home might not be enough to reduce stress. If the anxiety doesn’t lessen, seek help from a mental health professional.
With treatment, many people manage astraphobia symptoms. Without treatment, astraphobia symptoms may interfere with your health or relationships. Untreated astraphobia can increase your risk of:
You might want to ask your healthcare provider:
With treatment, you might overcome your fear of thunderstorms. Or you might manage astraphobia symptoms long term. The best way to get over an extreme fear of thunderstorms is to seek help from a medical professional.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Astraphobia is the extreme fear of thunder and lightning. It’s most common in children. Many people outgrow the fear of thunderstorms as they get older. But astraphobia is still among the most common specific phobias. Treatment for astraphobia might include exposure therapy, talk therapy or medication. You might also learn stress reduction techniques to manage anxiety symptoms.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/19/2021.
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