Tonitrophobia: The Fear of Thunder and Lightning
Did you know that a lightning strike can carry 15 million volts? That’s a lot of electricity!
Lightning is also associated with claps of thunder, which can reach a deafening 200 decibels.
Given these facts, it’s not surprising that a lot of people are afraid of thunder, lightning, and thunderstorms.
Taken to extremes, this natural fear can develop into Tonitrophobia. Good thing that it is not necessary to live with this phobia forever. All you have to do is acknowledge the fear and aim to overcome it with little steps. Let’s take a closer look.
What Is Tonitrophobia?
Tonitrophobia is the fear of thunder and lightning. Also called Astrapobhia and Keraunophobia, this irrational fear is fairly commonplace. What’s not normal is the severity and persistence of this fear.
Does the sound of thunder frighten you? Do you panic during stormy weather? Do you cancel your plans due to news of an impending storm? If you answered yes, you may have Tonitrophobia.
You probably prefer to stay home when the weather is not in your favor, even if it’s just remotely windy or cloudy. If you reside somewhere that has frequent thunderstorms, this phobia can make life a misery. You seek to avoid anything that is associated with storms. Your fear of storms and tornadoes may also bring with it the fear of rain, lightning, floods, and wind. When unaccompanied by lightning, thunder seems harmless for most people. It’s merely a loud sound in the background. But for a Tonitrophobia sufferer, the reverberating thunder above may seem paralyzing.
What Causes the Fear of Thunder and Lightning?
Anything could have triggered your fear of thunder and lightning. You may have been stuck in a dreadful hurricane in your childhood that stayed with you. Perhaps a family member also this condition. Whatever the cause, many people suffer jolts of anxiety during storms. You may go through painstaking fear when you hear a distant clap of thunder or see a bolt of lightning. Let’s look at the two most possible Tonitrophobia causes.
If someone in the family has a mental illness, you are more likely to develop this irrational fear. If you have such a genetic predisposition, it only takes one traumatic incident to initiate the phobia.
Did you experience a terrible storm as a child? This may have triggered the phobia. Anything you experience after that incident that relates to a storm will take you back to those intense emotions you went through then.
Identifying the cause will help you get to the root of your phobia. The better you understand your fear, the easier it gets to treat it.
Symptoms of Tonitrophobia
What is the most basic sign that you have Tonitrophobia? You find stormy weather excruciating. It’s not just garden-variety uneasiness. You tremble whenever you hear rumbling thunder, no matter how mild. Terror may flash your eyes at the mere news of a storm coming. One can experience a panic attack either during a storm or before it.
Other symptoms are:
● Chest pain
● Heart palpitations
● Trouble breathing
● Sweaty palms
● Racing pulse
● Anxiety at mere thoughts of thunder
● Anxiety when hearing rumbling sounds of thunder
● Fight or flight response to thunder
● Panic attacks
Tonitrophobia symptoms can be triggered by a weather forecast, conversation, or news article. You may want to run away and hide at the first hint of thunder or lightning. Even though a person is aware that the fear is exaggerated and irrational, tuning it down may seem impossible. You may even start exaggerating the impact a storm will have on your life and the environment. You may start avoiding your fear or decide to stay indoors permanently. If you do so, you are altering your routine based on your fear. How can you get your mental health and life back on track?
Self Help Guide to Tonitrophobia
Do you find yourself asking, “How do I overcome my fear of thunderstorms?” This article has you covered. Although there is no definite Tonitrophobia treatment, one can recover from it through stress management techniques or seek professional help. Are you aware of your irrational fear and are ready to fight it? You can help yourself cope by taking baby steps towards recovery. Below is a guide to help you get started with recovery.
If you are already anxious, gulping down coffee throughout the day will only worsen it. Our heart beats faster when we consume a lot of caffeine and we become tense, forcing our body to go into a “flight or fight” state. This increases the chances of getting a panic attack. Cutting down on coffee or anything containing caffeine like tea or energy drinks will help you reduce your everyday anxiety. Although this won’t rid you of the phobia, it will help tone down the symptoms.
Mindfulness meditation will help your mind enter a calm state and distract you from the fear. It will allow your mind to focus on something that doesn’t make you sweat. Mindfulness helps you direct your attention to something like breathing when you are in the middle of a panic attack. It refocuses your mind and eases the anguish you are going through.
Cardio relieves stress and releases feel-good hormones like endorphins. Exercising will make your body used to stressful situations by putting it under strenuous exercise. Then it becomes easier for you to cope with anxiety and stress.
The meditative focused state-of-mind that yoga tends to emit relieves the stress and anxiety associated with Tonitrophobia. It will redirect your energy and attention to something productive.
Seeking Professional Treatment for Tonitrophobia
You should seek professional help to overcome your phobia when the fear has lasted for six months or more. If Tonitrophobia is interfering with your daily life, your doctor’s diagnosis can help you decide on a treatment method. Certain forms of psychotherapy and exposure therapy have proved to be advantageous. Exposure therapy is a common treatment for many phobias. The patient is slowly exposed to the fear over time. Here, the exposure may be of the sounds of thunder and desensitize the patient gradually.
Other forms of treatment are:
● Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
● Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
● Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
If you show any of the symptoms related to Tonitrophobia, talk to your doctor to get it treated properly.
How to Avoid Tonitrophobia Altogether
No phobia can be treated instantly. Your recovery starts the day you acknowledge your fear and aim to treat it instead of adopting safety behaviors. When you start normalizing these behaviors, you make your phobia worse. They create temporary safe havens for you and the phobia continues to remain deep within you. You cannot always run away from your fears, but you can make your life easier by learning to live with your triggers. Adopt stress management techniques to eliminate the anxiety related to phobia. This will help you manage your phobia in the long term.
Your intense fear of thunder may seem mortifying right now. But with time and adequate effort, you can desensitize yourself and learn to cope with the anxiety. With proper treatment, it’s possible to beat Tonitrophobia. You don’t have to overhaul your life in an attempt to avoid thunder. It is high time you start your journey towards fighting it.