Phobias are a common problem affecting about 12% of adults. There are many different types of phobias, and most involve ordinary, everyday items. The fear of clouds or nephophobia goes all the way back to Ancient Greece, where people were said to have this affliction.
Fortunately, there are treatments for nephophobia and other phobias so patients can cope more easily. To get treatment, you need to be diagnosed with this phobia, but to get diagnosed, you first need to know the symptoms and what this phobia entails.
What Is Nephophobia?
Nephophobia is a fear of the clouds in the sky. The word is a mixture of the Greek words nepho, which means cloud, and phobia, a word that means fear. This isn’t a common phobia, but it can greatly affect those who have it. There are few ways to avoid seeing clouds, as they are pervasive in the sky virtually everywhere. It can therefore be difficult to do normal daily tasks when someone has this phobia. When the patient has a view of clouds, it can cause a range of mental and physical reactions that can make it hard to get things done.
Nephophobia is a type of phobia that’s called a specific phobia. That means that the phobia is a feat that’s irrational and strong and is associated with something that doesn’t pose any real danger. There are several categories of specific phobias, and nephophobia comes under the category of the natural environment. This category is the second most common of all the subtypes. The category makes up about 9 to 12% of phobias that are classified as specific phobias.
What Causes Nephophobia?
There is a straightforward trigger to this phobia – seeing or thinking about clouds. It’s possible for genetics to play a role in this phobia if a patient has had the phobia for many years. If there is a family history of this phobia, it can be more common in patients. Phobias that are related to the weather are highly common.
Studies have found that when a patient has a weather-related phobia such as nephophobia, it is often caused by having a past negative experience with bad weather. When there is severe weather, a lot of things can happen to people and their property. When a person has had a traumatic experience that involved the weather, it’s understandable that different aspects of the weather could make them nervous and afraid after that. Clouds can be related to tropical storms, downdrafts, tornadoes, and hurricanes, not to mention dangerous thunderstorms. Experiencing one of these can set off this phobia and create problems.
There are also those who have nephophobia because they see shapes in the clouds that could be frightening. This includes people who see clouds at night and equate them with UFOs. There are some patients who have a fear of outer space or of UFOs or aliens, and this can cause them to be afraid of clouds against the night sky. This fear may be related to nyctophobia which is the fear of the dark. For some patients, seeing other people afraid of the clouds can start this fear within them. If they know someone with nephophobia, whether it’s diagnosed or not, it could spread to them as they begin to see the clouds as something negative. Children may be conditioned to fear them if their parents do.
Symptoms of Nephophobia
There are a lot of symptoms that may manifest themselves in different patients. Some will have one of these symptoms, and some will have several of them. It’s common for those who have nephophobia to start feeling anxious and fearful when they see that the clouds are gathering or simply that they are there. This fear will be excessive and start to affect the sufferer in a number of ways. Many people have a fight-or-flight response that is overwhelming. They often want to escape from the clouds and go indoors. Sufferers who see clouds or even simply think about them can become nauseated and get a dry mouth.
Many people with this fear panic when they have exposure to clouds or think about them, and this can cause them to have heart palpitations and tremors. When someone has nephophobia, the trigger object, clouds, will trigger the person to have severe anxiety every time or nearly every time. The diagnosis of this condition generally requires that the fear has been there for six months or longer. During that time, the person has actively tried to avoid clouds. They may avoid going outside as much as possible so that they don’t have to see them, or they may keep themselves from looking at the sky. In children, the symptoms can include being more clingy than usual, having tantrums, or crying when clouds are present.
The hallmark of a phobia is that the object isn’t harmful but still triggers a highly disproportionate response. Unless they are part of a severe weather system, clouds are generally harmless. However, a person with this phobia will fear them when they are seen on a sunny day when there is no severe weather present. When someone with this phobia is triggered by seeing clouds, they may have a number of problems caused by their reaction to them. This can include having an impaired social life or having problems at work as well as with relationships. The intense fear can affect nearly every facet of a sufferer’s life.
The patient may feel like they are in immediate danger and has a need to escape for their lives. They may tremble, flush, sweat, or have chills. The person may be short of breath, feel like they can’t breathe, or feel lightheaded. Many people have a feeling that they’re choking, and they may have stomach pain. Some people become afraid that they’re losing their sanity and that they’re going to lose control over themselves. Exposure to clouds may also trigger a fear of dying and/or a feeling that they are about to die.
Having a fear of clouds can cause a lot of negative effects on a sufferer’s life, but there are several types of treatments that can help people with this phobia and perhaps cure it. Among people who have specific phobias, only between 10% and 25% of them seek out treatment for the problem. They may not want to have to confront their fear through therapy or take any medications for the phobia. With many phobias, it can be helpful to simply avoid the trigger object, but that isn’t possible when the fear is of clouds. Clouds are in the sky nearly every day, so treatment is needed to make life better.
There are different types of therapy that may be given to those with nephophobia. One of these, often considered to be the best treatment for people with a specific phobia, is exposure therapy. This involves a therapist who uses images of clouds to expose the patient to the trigger object. This is then repeated many times until the reaction to the trigger object is lessened and finally goes away. Over time, this exposure should lead to no more fear response in response to clouds. There are various ways that a therapist can expose patients to clouds. This can include having them look out the window at the sky, seeing online pictures of them, seeing photographs of them, and finally going outside to see clouds in person. The therapist will create a treatment plan that is specific to your nephophobia and the symptoms you have.
There is also cognitive behavioral therapy, which uses the same principles of exposure therapy and other actions that help to curb the symptoms. CBT is often a good choice for those with especially troubling symptoms that have been hard to get rid of. There is also medication that is often used for phobia sufferers. These are usually antianxiety medications that are used along with exposure therapy or CBT. Medication is usually not the sole treatment used for a phobia. It is often prescribed to help with the symptoms while the condition is being worked out in therapy, so the patient can work toward their goal of curing the phobia. Patients may also be prescribed sedatives to help them relax around clouds. Sometimes, beta blockers are used for this purpose. These block adrenaline from causing the distressing symptoms.