Ombrophobia (Fear of Rain)

Ombrophobia is an intense fear of rain, from intense weather to a drizzle. An ombrophobe might worry about acid rain, germs in rain, floods or other dangers. Ombrophobia is a type of anxiety disorder that can cause symptoms and emotions that affect daily life. But certain types of therapy and medications can help.

Overview

What is ombrophobia?

Ombrophobia is an extreme fear of rain. The condition is a specific phobia (fear), which is a type of anxiety disorder. A person who is afraid of rain (an ombrophobe) may be afraid of major, destructive rain or just a light drizzle.

People with ombrophobia may believe that rain can be harmful in some way. For example, they may worry about acid rain or germs in rainfall. They may have generalized fears that rain will cause darkness, floods, landslides, power failures or other dangers.

Ombrophobes may go to great lengths to avoid rain, such as:

  • Deciding where to live based on local weather patterns.
  • Obsessing over weather forecasts.
  • Refusing to go outdoors.
  • Skipping educational, professional or personal activities if there’s a chance rain might occur.

Any specific phobia, including ombrophobia, can cause significant stress and even physical symptoms. An ombrophobe may understand that the fear of rain is not reasonable but may not be able to control it.

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How common is fear of rain?

Health professionals aren’t sure how common ombrophobia is. But one study found that about 10% of Americans have a fear of severe weather.

Phobias affect people of all ages. They can start in childhood or adulthood. Such fears are common: About 1 in 10 American adults and 1 in 5 teenagers will deal with a specific phobia disorder at some point in their lives.

What other fears are related to ombrophobia?

Fear of rain may be related to other specific phobias, including:

  • Antlophobia, fear of flooding.
  • Aquaphobia, fear of drowning.
  • Astraphobia, fear of lightning and thunder.
  • Germophobia, a fear of germs, which an ombrophobe may think is present in rain.
  • Nosophobia, a fear of illness, which an ombrophobe may think will be caused by rain or floods.
  • Homichlophobia, fear of fog.
  • Pluviophobia, fear of weather related to rain, including storms, wind, thunder and lightning.
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Symptoms and Causes

What causes a fear of rain?

Healthcare providers aren’t sure what causes ombrophobia and other specific phobias. But mental health professionals believe it results from a combination of:

  • Frightening experiences associated with rain: If a person has a traumatic experience with rain, that may lead to ombrophobia. For example, surviving a terrible storm or flood can make a person ombrophobic.
  • Genetics: Some people have a family history of anxiety disorders and specific fears.

What are the symptoms of ombrophobia?

A person who is afraid of rain may experience symptoms of anxiety or panic when they think about or encounter rain:

  • Dizziness.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Extreme feeling of dread or terror.
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Profuse sweating.
  • Rapid breathing and heart rate.
  • Shaking or trembling.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Urge to run and hide.

Ombrophobia also might lead to certain behaviors, such as:

  • Avoiding the outdoors.
  • Becoming socially isolated because of fear of rain.
  • Obsessively checking the weather forecast or looking up at the sky.
  • Refusing to participate in certain activities if there’s any chance of rain.
  • Worrying excessively about loved ones encountering rain.
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Diagnosis and Tests

How is ombrophobia diagnosed?

There are no tests to diagnose a rain phobia. A healthcare provider can diagnose the condition based on discussions with you about:

  • Your symptoms and how long they’ve been happening.
  • Whether symptoms interfere with your life.

A healthcare provider can diagnose ombrophobia if you have an intense fear of rain that:

  • Causes extreme anxiety as soon as you think about rain, see it or feel it.
  • Leads to significant stress or affects your daily life.
  • Has been happening for at least six months.
  • Is out of proportion with any actual danger.
  • Makes you avoid the outdoors or certain activities.
  • Produces physical symptoms of anxiety or panic attacks.

Management and Treatment

How do I get rid of ombrophobia?

Some people with mild ombrophobia may not need treatment. But if fear of rain leads to physical symptoms or interferes with your life, talk to a healthcare provider.

Possible treatments include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is structured psychotherapy that can help a person understand and control thoughts and emotions. It’s a form of talk therapy, and it can help people unlearn negative thoughts and behaviors.
  • Exposure therapy: Exposure therapy, sometimes called desensitization, helps people confront their fears gradually. Through increasing levels of exposure to rain, the person can learn to manage fear and negative reactions. For ombrophobia treatment, the therapist might start with something simple, like a picture of rain. Next, the therapist might ask the ombrophobe to imagine standing in the rain. Eventually, the therapist aims to have the person actually stand in the rain while controlling their emotions and behaviors.
  • Hypnotherapy: Hypnotherapy can put a person in a trance-like but focused state. A person under hypnosis is more open to suggestions and change. A hypnotist may be able to convince a hypnotized person that they are less afraid of the rain.
  • Medications: A variety of anti-anxiety medications can lessen anxiety and its physical symptoms.

Prevention

How can I reduce my risk of ombrophobia?

Mental health professionals don’t fully understand what causes a fear of rain, so they don’t have a proven way to prevent it.

But specific fears and anxiety issues often occur in groups. If you have another phobia or anxiety disorder, such as panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder, talk to a healthcare provider. Managing one anxiety disorder may help you prevent others.

Outlook / Prognosis

Can ombrophobia be cured?

Many children and adolescents grow out of ombrophobia. But the fear may last into adulthood or even get worse. Although there’s no cure for ombrophobia, treatments are very effective at lessening the effects. Exposure therapy, which can be combined with other treatments, helps most people who practice it regularly.

Living With

How can I best learn to cope with a fear of rain?

Many people can manage ombrophobia and other similar phobias. Consider strategies that help manage the symptoms of anxiety, such as:

  • Breathing exercises.
  • Muscle relaxation.
  • Meditation.
  • Yoga.

A note from Cleveland Clinic
Ombrophobia is an extreme fear of rain. It’s a type of anxiety disorder, and it can cause symptoms and problems in daily life. If you are afraid of the rain and feel like you can’t control the fear, talk to a healthcare provider about treatment options.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/15/2022.

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