Brontofobia: symptoms, causes and treatment
If we set out to make a complete and exhaustive list of all the fears and phobic fears suffered by human beings, it would be an almost impossible task, since any object or situation is susceptible of becoming a phobic stimulus.
Despite some of these fears are easy to recognize, it is quite likely that we have lived at some point in our lives, including childhood. The brontofobia is one of these fears that are so common in the smallest , but that if they are not approached correctly they can end up taking root in adulthood.
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What is brontofobia?
The brontofobia is within the immense list of specific anxiety disorders and is related to the phobic fear of storms, including thunder and lightning . People suffering from brontofobia tend to experience an exaggerated, irrational and uncontrollable fear of thunder and lightning, developing a response of intense anxiety every time they are exposed to these agents of nature.
As a consequence, this anxiety response tends to originate a whole repertoire of behaviors, acts and behavior that are carried out with the intention of avoiding the feared situation or escaping from it as soon as possible.
This phobia usually presents a much higher incidence in children of younger ages . During childhood, experiencing a certain degree of fear of storms is natural, however if this fear intensifies and strengthens over time it can end up becoming a real and intense phobia in adult ages.
The brontofobia can interfere significantly in the life of the person, especially in those situations or locations where weather conditions cause the origin of thunder and lightning. However, research in psychology has developed a series of highly effective treatments, thanks to which the person can overcome brontophobia and restore normalcy in his life.
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Characteristics of this anxiety disorder
Since brontofobia is part of the category of specific anxiety disorders, it shares symptoms, causes and treatments with them. The most direct consequence of the brontofobia is that the person who suffers it, avoids or constantly avoids all those situations or places in which the generation of a storm, lightning or thunder is possible.
Like the rest of specific phobias, the brontofobia is characterized by being a phobic fear with a specific aversive stimulus, in this case the storms, and that presents the following characteristics:
- The person experiences excessive and disproportionate fear taking into account the real threat posed by the phobic stimulus.
- Fear does not have any logic. That is, it is irrational or based on wrong ideas.
- Who suffers the phobic fear is incapable to control it, as well as the answers that this causes.
- The appearance of the phobic stimulus or the forecast that this may appear automatically triggers a series of avoidance and escape behaviors.
- If the person does not undergo treatment, the fear can become permanent and constant over time.
What are the symptoms?
The most distinctive symptom of brontofobia, and the rest of specific phobias, is the manifestation of high levels of anxiety in the person who suffers . However, this symptomatology does not have to arise in the same way and with the same intensity in all people.
Even so, for fear to be classified as phobic, the person must present some of the symptoms typical of the three categories associated with phobias: physical symptoms, cognitive symptoms and behavioral symptoms.
1. Physical symptoms
Like the rest of the answers related to anxiety, the experimentation of an exacerbated fear usually brings a series of changes and alterations in the organism . These changes are caused by the hyperactivity that the autonomic nervous system experiences before the appearance of the aversive stimulus.
This symptomatology includes:
- incrise of cardiac frecuency.
- Acceleration of breathing .
- Feeling of breathlessness and shortness of breath.
- Muscle tension.
- Increased levels of sweating.
- Alterations and gastric problems.
- Nausea or vomiting .
- Fainting and loss of consciousness.
2. Cognitive symptoms
In addition to the physical symptoms, the brontofobia is accompanied by a series of irrational ideas and distorted beliefs about the phobic stimulus, in this case storms, lightning and thunder.This cognitive symptomatology can manifest itself in the following ways:
- Intrusive and uncontrollable ideas about the danger of storms.
- Obsessive speculations related to the phobic stimulus.
- Catastrophic imagination related to this meteorological phenomenon.
- Fear of losing control and not knowing how to manage the situation properly.
- Feeling of unreality .
3. Behavioral symptoms
Finally, all specific phobias share a series of symptoms or behavioral patterns that appear in response to coping with the phobic stimulus. These behavioral symptoms appear in order to avoid the feared situation, or to flee when the aversive stimulus has already appeared. These behaviors are known as avoidance or escape behaviors.
The behaviors that have as goal to avoid the encounter with a storm, or behaviors of avoidance, make reference to all those behaviors or acts that the person realizes to avoid the possibility of meeting them. In this way momentarily dodges experiencing feelings of anguish and anxiety that generate these environmental conditions in the person.
On the other hand, escape behaviors appear when the person with brontofobia is already submerged in the feared situation. During this period of time, the person will perform all kinds of acts or behaviors that allow him to escape from the situation as quickly as possible.
What causes this phobia?
At the moment, no evaluation techniques or methods have been developed that allow knowing completely the origin of a phobia. In many occasions the person is not aware of the reason for this fear, and is not able to associate it with any experience.
In any case, due to the common components that exist between phobias, it is estimated that the causes of these can be common. Thus, a possible genetic predisposition to the harmful effects of stress , accompanied by the experience of a highly traumatic situation or with much emotional content and related to storms, can lay the foundations for the development of this and any phobia.
However, there are other factors to take into account such as personality, cognitive styles or learning by imitation, which can favor the appearance and development of irrational fear of any type of object or situation.
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Are there treatments?
As mentioned previously, the brontofobia can be highly disabling, especially in those climates that favor the appearance of storms, so that the person can see their daily life conditioned by the appearance of these phenomena, as well as the wear and tear It means constantly supporting the high levels of stress it causes.
Luckily, there is the possibility of perform an approach to the disorder from psychotherapy . Throughout the investigations it has been proven that cognitive-behavioral therapy obtains fantastic results in the treatment of phobias.
These cases are carried out a series of techniques that aim to decrease and elimination of the three groups of symptoms. By means of the cognitive restructuring it is tried to modify those irrational beliefs that the person has with respect to the storms.
In terms of physical and behavioral stimuli, practices such as systematic desensitization or live exposure, accompanied by a training in relaxation techniques They have proved to be a great help. Therefore, the combination of all these techniques will help the person to overcome their phobic fear and rebuild their lives in a normal way.