Keraunophobia is the fear of thunder and lightning. However, as with any phobia, this does not refer to simple fear or uneasiness during a thunderstorm. Phobias are extreme and irrational fears. Sufferers of phobias often understand that there is no logical reason for their fear, yet the panic persists.
Symptoms of keraunophobia appear when a person is exposed to thunder and lightning. Keraunophobia can bring on a variety of reactions, including severe anxiety attacks. Some common symptoms include heart palpitations, excessive sweating, shaking, dry mouth, nausea, inability to think clearly, a fear of dying, and a feeling of being detached from reality.
Phobias are difficult to understand and even harder to overcome. Keraunophobia affects people of any age, however it often begins in childhood. There are many ways that parents can help children cope with the fear of thunder and lightning storms.
When children are afraid of thunderstorms, they often hide. This is a natural instinct and a logical response. Never tease a child for hiding from thunder and lightning. It may help to encourage a child to move into a room of the house where the sounds of the storm are more muffled.
There are many children’s books written about coping with the fear of storms, such as, Franklin and the Thunderstorm by Paulette Bourgeois or Thunder and Lightning: They’re Not So Frightening by JD Schmith. Reading books with your children can help them learn coping strategies, and it may help for them to simply know that they are not alone in their fear of thunderstorms.
It may also help children to learn about the science behind thunder and lightning. By learning what really happens during a thunderstorm, children can gain perspective and feel more in control of the situation. Try an educational book such as, Thunder and Lightning (Weather Watchers) by Cassie Mayer, or look up information online or at your local library.
There are many therapy options for dealing with an extreme fear of thunderstorms. When simple coping strategies and learning about storm phenomena do not help, it may be time to see a professional. Your family doctor can recommend a therapist who can help. A therapist may suggest some of the following techniques.
Exposure strategies are commonly used to treat phobias. The patient is first taught coping strategies such as breathing exercises, positive visualizations, or repeated mantras. He or she is then exposed to the fear stimulus in a safe, controlled environment and guided through using the learned coping strategies. In this case, a therapist may use a sound machine to play the sounds of a thunderstorm in the safety of his or her office.
Some people believe that exposure is the only way to desensitize a person from to the phobia stimulus. However, exposure is stressful, mentally and physically, and such therapies take many sessions to achieve results. Less stressful therapy options are also being explored and have found success.
Hypnotherapy may be an effective way of dealing with a fear of thunderstorms. Hypnotherapy is non-invasive. It simply relaxes the patient into a state of consciousness where he or she may be more open to understanding and overcoming the underlying fear. A hypnotherapist may dim the lights, use relaxing sounds, or use an object to draw the patient’s focus, but hypnosis is primarily achieved by verbally guiding the patient.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a form of therapy based in a patient’s underlying thought structures. NLP is a study of how people “create” their realities. As people grow and learn, they apply labels (words) to everything around them, including intangible things like feelings. The chosen words create a framework of reality. NLP explores these fundamental word associations and reprograms them to use words that may not induce fear symptoms. This might include describing thunder and lightning with less frightening adjectives, such as describing thunder as “rolling” or “rippling” instead of “booming” or “earth-shaking”.
Anti-anxiety medication is sometimes used to treat phobias. However, medication relieves the symptoms of anxiety without resolving the underlying fear. In severe cases, medication may help resolve a fear of thunderstorms when used in conjunction with other forms of therapy.
The names of phobias can be confusing. When researching keranuophobia, it may help to know that it is sometimes spelled with a “c”, ceraunophia. Another term for the fear of thunder and lightning storms is astraphobia. Although, be careful not to confuse astraphobia with astrophobia, which is a fear of stars and celestial space.
Like any phobia, keraunophobia is difficult to understand and overcome. If you, or someone you know, suffers from an extreme fear of thunder and lightning storms there are many treatment options available. Keep in mind that therapies which work for some people, may be less effective for others. It is all about finding the treatment that works best for you.