Fear Of Thunder And Lightning (Astraphobia): Symptoms, Treatment

Fear of thunder and lightning, astraphobia, also known as brontophobia, keraunofobia, or tonitrophobia, is an abnormal fear of thunder and lightning, a specific type of phobia. It is a treatable phobia that both humans and animals can develop. The term astraphobia is made up of the words ἀστραπή (astrape; lightning) and φόβος ( phobias; fear).


  • A person with astraphobia will often feel anxious during a thunderstorm, even though they understand that their threat is minimal.
  • Some symptoms are accompanied by many phobias, such as shaking, crying, sweating, panic reactions, the sudden sensation of going to the bathroom, nausea, a feeling of fear, fingers in the ears, and a rapid heartbeat.
  • However, some reactions are unique to astraphobia.
  • For example, you often seek reassurance from other people, and symptoms are worse when you are alone.
  • Many people who have astraphobia will seek additional shelter from the storm.
  • They can hide under a bed, under the covers, in a closet, in a basement, or anywhere else they feel safer.
  • Usually, efforts are made to muffle the sound of thunder; the person may cover their ears or cover the windows with curtains.

One sign that someone has astraphobia is a very high interest in weather forecasts.

  • An astraphobic person will be alert to news of approaching storms.
  • They can constantly watch the weather on TV during rainy episodes and even track thunderstorms online.
  • This can become severe enough that the person cannot go outside without checking the weather first.
  • This can lead to anxiety.
  • In extreme cases, astraphobia can lead to agoraphobia, fearing leaving home.


  • In 2007, scientists discovered that astraphobia is the third most prevalent phobia in the United States.
  • It can occur in people of any age.
  • It occurs in many children and should not be immediately identified as a phobia because children naturally go through many fears as they mature.
  • Your fear of thunder and lightning cannot be considered a fully developed phobia unless it persists for more than six months.
  • In this case, the child’s phobia must be addressed, as it can become a severe problem in adulthood.
  • To lessen a child’s fear of thunderstorms, the child can be distracted by games and activities.
  • A bolder approach is to treat the storm as entertainment; A fearless adult is an excellent role model for children.

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  • The most widely used and possibly the most effective treatment for astraphobia is exposure to thunderstorms and eventually building an immunity.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy is also frequently used to treat astraphobia.3] In many cases, the patient will be instructed to repeat phrases to himself to calm down during a storm.
  • Heavy breathing exercises can reinforce this effort.

Dogs and cats

  • Dogs can show severe anxiety during thunderstorms, between 15 and 30 percent.
  • Research confirms that high cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress, affect dogs during and after thunderstorms.
  • Remedies include behavioral therapies such as counter-conditioning and desensitization, anti-anxiety medications, and dog tranquilizing pheromone, a synthetic analog of a hormone secreted by canine nursing mothers.
  • Studies have also shown that cats can be afraid of thunderstorms.
  • Although very rare, cats have been known to hide under a table or behind a sofa during a storm.
  • Generally, if an animal is anxious during a storm or any similar, practically harmless event (for example, a fireworks display), it is advisable to continue behaving normally rather than comfort the animal.
  • Being bold is by far the best method of “curing” anxiety.

Georgia Tarrant
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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.