Pluviophobia (fear of rain): symptoms, causes and treatment

Rain, also known as shadophobia, It is the persistent and intense fear of rains and associated events (thunder, lightning, etc.). It is a phobia specific to an environmental stimulus, which can be caused by several factors.

In this article, we’ll take a look at what pluviophobia is, what are some of its main features, and what strategies can be used to treat it.

    Pluviophobia: for the persistence of rain

    The word pluviophobia consists of the adjective “pluvial”, which means “relating to rain” (comes from the Latin “Pluvialis”), and the word “phobia”, which comes from the Greek “phobos” and means fear.

    So, pluviophobia is the persistent and intense fear of rain and related elements. It is a fear that can present itself during childhoodAlthough this can also occur in adolescence and adulthood.

    But that’s not the only term used to describe the lingering fear of rain. One of the synonyms for “rainophobia” is the term “shadowophobia”, which mixes the Greek “shoulder” (meaning “rain”) and the word “phobos”.

    This last term has had other derivations. For example, there is a species of plant that cannot withstand heavy exposure to rain, so it has been called an “ombrophobic”. On the other hand, there is a great variety of vegetation to which “ombrófila” is denominated, by its great resistance to the rain.

    General characteristics of this disorder

    As the characteristic fear of rainophobia is caused by an environmental element (rain), this it can be considered as a type of phobia specific to the natural environment. The estimated age for the development of this type of phobia is around 23 years old, and the one that occurs most often is fear of heights.

    The perceived harmful stimulus, in this case rain, can generate conscious or unconscious expectations of danger. In other words, people can respond with anxiety to the stimulus even if it only manifests itself indirectly. Likewise, when presented to adults, they may recognize that the stimulus in itself does not represent an imminent danger; on the contrary, when it occurs in children, this awareness is usually absent.

    Rain, on the other hand, is an atmospheric phenomenon that results from the condensation of water vapor located in clouds. But is rain really a harmful event? Why can it be dangerous for some people and not for others? How much discomfort can it cause? We will see some answers later.


      Usually, the fear associated with phobias is triggered by exposure to a stimulus that is perceived to be harmful. This fear elicits an immediate response to anxiety, Which involves signs and symptoms such as tachycardia, hyperventilation, decreased gastrointestinal activity, increased blood pressure, palpitations, among others.

      All of the above occurs as a result of the activation of the autonomic nervous system, which is stimulated in risky situations. On the other hand, the anxious response can manifest as disgust or repulsion, cardiovascular slowing, dry mouth, nausea, dizziness and decrease in body temperature. The latter occurs when a specific part of the autonomic nervous system called the “parasympathetic nervous system” is activated.

      It should be noted that the intensity with which these manifestations occur largely depends on the degree of exposure to the stimulus which is perceived to be harmful. In other words, the intensity of the response varies depending on whether the person is watching the rain from their home or whether they need direct exposure to a storm.

      In addition, the intensity of the response may vary depending on the particular characteristics of the harmful stimulus and associated associations, and the possibilities of escape that can present (For example, it may vary if it is a light rain or an electrical storm).

      Additionally, a specific phobia can cause secondary behaviors that have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life, but usually provide momentary relief. For example, avoid any situation related to the harmful stimulus. It can also cause hypervigilance in these situations or the emergence of defensive behavior.

      Possible causes

      According to Bados (2005), specific phobias can develop in people who do not have a predisposing condition, but who have already had a negative experience (Directly or indirectly), which generate intense alert reactions. In the specific case of rainophobia, the fear may be justified by previous experiences related to storms, architectural collapses, floods, and other natural disasters.

      Thus, specific phobias are caused by an interaction of these experiences with other conditions such as the biological, psychological and social vulnerability of the person. In other words, that is to say it involves both neurobiological susceptibility, coping skills and social support of the person.

      In addition, depending on the particular characteristics of the above interaction, the person may learn to respond with a disproportionate fear of stimuli that has been associated with danger or risk.


      First, the treatment for this phobia can begin by assessing both the degree of anxiety the stimulus causes, as well as the associated negative experiences and types of vulnerability of each person.

      The most studied and used treatments to eradicate phobias are live exposure to feared situations, participating model, imaginary exhibitionSystematic desensitization and retreatment by eye movements. Each of these interventions may have effective results depending on the particular characteristics of the phobia in question.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Olesen, J. (2018). Fear of rain phobia – Ombrophobia. Accessed September 7, 2018.Available at
      • Ombrophobia: the strange evil that scares the rain (2011) Publimetro. Accessed September 7, 2018.Available at
      • Bados, A. (2006). Specific phobias. Faculty of Psychology. Autonomous University of Barcelona. Accessed September 7, 2018.Available at

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