Those who are afraid enough to hide under the table when thunder, you are not alone. Astraphobia is the fear of thunder and lightning. It can affect people of all ages but may be more common in children than adults. It is also seen in animals. Many children with this fear eventually surpass it, but a small number continue to experience the phobia into adulthood.
Preparing for a storm or extreme weather can cause moderate anxiety or fear. However, in people with astraphobia, storms cause an extreme reaction that can be debilitating. For people with this phobia, these feelings can be overwhelming.
Astraphobia is a treatable anxiety disorder. Like many other phobias, it is not recognized as a specific psychiatric diagnosis by the American psychiatric association.
What are the symptoms?
News of an impending storm forces a person to change their plans outside, or if a person is suddenly caught in a thunderstorm, they may seek shelter. It can move away from tall trees in case of lightning. Although the probability of a lightning strike is slim, these actions are actions appropriate to a potentially dangerous situation.
But a person with astraphobia will have a reaction that goes beyond the above seemingly appropriate actions. They will feel panic before and during a storm. these feelings can become a full-blown panic attack and may include the following symptoms:
- don’t shake the whole body
- chest pain,
- heart palpitations,
- shortness of breath.
Other symptoms of astraphobia may include
- sweaty palms,
- obsessive desire to watch the storm and the sky,
- the need to hide from thunder using a closet, bathroom or bed,
- hugging others for protection,
- uncontrollable crying, especially in children.
These symptoms can be triggered by stimuli such as a weather program, lightning or thunder.
What are the risk factors?
Some people may be at high risk for this phobia. just being a child can also be a risk factor. storms can be particularly frightening for children, but many will survive these feelings later on. Some children with auditory impairment, autism, and sensory processing disorders may have a harder time controlling their emotions during a storm.
Anxiety disorders sometimes have a genetic link. Individuals with a family history of anxiety, depression, or phobia may be at greater risk for astrophobia.
Weather-related trauma may also be a risk factor. For example, someone who has a traumatic or negative experience caused by violent weather may gain a phobia for storms.
How is astraphobia diagnosed?
If your phobia lasts longer than six months or interferes with daily life, seeking help from a doctor or therapist can help. Your doctor will examine you to distinguish between a diagnosis that verbally describes your reactions and feelings to storms, and a medical basis, if any, for symptoms.
There is no specific diagnostic laboratory test for astrophobia. The new edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders sets criteria for specific phobias to aid diagnosis.
Specific phobias are an anxiety disorder represented by irrational fear. Your doctor will compare your symptoms against the list of criteria and make your diagnosis to determine if what you have is a phobia.