Also known as astraphobia, brontophobia is a condition in which the individual experiences an extreme fear of lighting and thunder. This type of phobia is often present in a mild form with young children, but normally begins to subside as the child enters adolescence. Household pets also sometimes exhibit this fear of thunder and lighting as well. However, there are instances in which adults develop this type of phobia, often to an extent that it inhibits their ability to engage in simple tasks like shopping, reading, or handling work projects during severe storms.
While many people view brontophobia as a relatively benign issue, that is rarely the case for anyone who suffers from the condition. When lightning bolts appear in the skies or the sound of distant thunder reaches the ears of the brontophobic, anxiety begins to mount. In mild cases, the individual will usually practice some type of avoidance. This can include putting off traveling during the storm, closing draperies on windows, and moving to the center of the home in an attempt to isolate oneself from the storm as possible.
With more advanced cases of the condition, brontophobia symptoms may include the outbreak of a full fledged panic attack, including a sense of losing control of one’s sanity or an impending sense of death. The brontophobic is also likely to experience a sense of feeling extremely lightheaded to the point of being about to pass out. Often, the heart will begin to palpitate rapidly, which adds to the feeling that the individual is about to experience some type of extreme harm.
There are a number of brontophobia causes that may come into play. One of the obvious origins of the condition would be some type of traumatic event in the past that involved the presence of thunder or lightning. For example, living through a serious automobile accident that occurred during a storm with heavy thunder and lightning may set the stage for reliving that terrible experience each time a storm begins to form. People who have either been struck by lightning or had a loved one killed as a result of a lightning storm may also develop this severe aversion to any weather conditions that include lightning and thunder. In some cases, the phobia may also develop as a concurring emotional issue to other types of phobias, effectively allowing multiple phobic conditions to feed off one another.
Brontophobia treatment is usually structured to address the specific symptoms of brontophobia exhibited by the patient. Therapy is almost always a part of the treatment process. Depending on the nature and severity of the symptoms, the use of sedatives or anti-anxiety medications may also be utilized as part of the ongoing treatment series. As with many types of phobias, the therapy will often seek to discover the underlying experiences or perceptions that led to the development of brontophobia, eliminate the power they hold over the individual, and assist the patient in developing a newer and healthier perception.