Ombrophobia: Fear of Rain - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Many people are fascinated by rain, and love getting drenched. But then there are other groups of people who prefer staying indoors, and not getting wet at all. However, there are some people who are actually extremely scared of rain. Such kind of intense and irrelevant fear of rain is known as Ombrophobia.
Ombrophobia has been derived from the Greek word “Ombros” meaning rain. Ombrophobia, also known as Pluviophobia, is signified by an unnatural aversion and fear of rain, even when the rain is mild or doesn’t pose a risk. Mostly, an ombrophobic person may be scared of heavy and stormy rain. However, some ombrophobic person may be fearful of the slightest drizzle. Ombrophobia is also closely related to Astraphobia (fear of thunders and lightning), Aquaphobia (fear of drowning), Homichlophobia (fear of fog) and Antlophobia (fear of flood). This is more common in children, and early teenagers.
What Causes Ombrophobia?
Major causes that may cause Ombrophobia in people are:
Evolutionary Survival Mechanism
The fear can be actually be rooted in the genetic composition of a person. Rain can be responsible for calamities like floods and landslides to occur. Many epidemics can be caused due to strong rains and flood. There have been many incidents of property and human life damage due to heavy rain. Thus, every human being has a self-defense within to respond to these strong and heavy rains. When this survival instinct goes to the extreme, it may result in Ombrophobia.
Every phobia can be associated with related trauma at some point in a person’s life. Any traumatic experiences such as getting injured due to flood or landslide, or loss of property during the same can strongly cause the person to fear rain. The fear can be triggered by other distressful experience of losing a loved one during rain, or witnessing someone else go through similar ordeals.
The Symptoms of Ombrophobia
Common symptoms that may occur with people (both children and adults) are:
- Irrational, persistent and extreme fear of rain ( even a thought or picture can develop anxiety)
- Disturbing thoughts of getting flooded and swept away by rain
- Complete avoidance from outdoors during rainy days
- Flight or Fight response i.e. fleeing away immediately or trying to defend against the rain
- Constantly checking weather reports, and observing sky or clouds
- Realization that the fear is irrelevant ( except in children)
- Screaming and crying
- Clingy towards elder people or guardians during rain ( especially in children)
- Panic attacks upon seeing rain
- Physical signs such as trembling, heart palpitation, sweating, profuse breathing, chest pain, nausea, dizziness or fainting, feeling numb and getting fixed
- Irrational thought of getting killed by the rain
When to Visit a Doctor?
Rain is a creation of nature, and occurs anytime. If the above symptoms have been occurring for more than six months time, and have made the affected person avoid all kinds of outdoor activities, it’s necessary to consult a doctor. Moreover, this phobia can be severely disrupting the academics, work and relationships of the person during rainy days. In such condition, starting the treatment process is essential.
How Is It Treated?
Ombrophobia can be efficiently brought under control through different psychotherapies and medicines.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
The phobia of rain can be strongly associated with a previous trauma and negative images related with the rain. CBT is a psychotherapy which helps in recognizing the root causes and thoughts responsible for the phobia. Through regular counseling sessions, the therapist helps the person build a positive outlook towards rain, and resist the fear.
CBT may also use hypnotherapy i.e. hypnosis to release the thoughts underlying in the sub-conscious of the person. Most of the times, these hidden memories and thoughts might be causing the fear to develop in a person.
Exposure Therapy with Relaxation
Exposure therapy is a psychotherapy where the person is confronted with the subject he/she fears. The key to any phobia is facing the fear. Exposure therapist makes the person face settings with imitation of train, or videos of heavy rain. During such session, the therapist also teaches various relaxing methods such as controlled breathing, mental visualizations and muscle relaxation to use. Eventually, the person learns to relax oneself even when the fear is triggered and control it.
In severe anxiety and panic cases, medicines can also be used for eliminating the fearful feelings. Anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medicines are effective in balancing brain chemicals such as Serotonin, which is responsible for determining a person’s mood.