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Anemophobia

Understanding the Fear of Air

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Updated January 07, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Anemophobia is a sort of catch-all term that encompasses a wide variety of air-related phobias. Some people are afraid of drafts, others of gusty winds. Some fear swallowing air. The phobia may be mild or severe, and is often life-limiting.

Weather Phobias

Anemophobia is often, though not always, related to other weather-based phobias. Lilapsophobia is the fear of severe storms, while astraphobia is the fear of more run of the mill weather events such as thunder and lightning. Many people with anemophobia based on another weather phobia are not afraid of the wind itself, but of the possibility that it signifies an upcoming storm. The fear of tornadoes is extremely common among people who suffer from both anemophobia and another weather-related phobia.

Loss of Identity

Some people with anemophobia worry that a strong wind will blow away items of financial or sentimental value. Some are concerned that a particularly gusty wind will tear apart their home. This type of anemophobia is often rooted in the fear of losing personal identity, and may be more common in those who have survived a tornado, a hurricane, or some other severe weather disaster.

Loss of Control

Like the fear of losing personal identity, the fear of losing control is often at the heart of air-related phobias. Like all weather phenomena, wind is beyond our control. Those who fear losing control of their lives and surroundings may be at an increased risk for air-related phobias.

Medical Phobias

Strong winds can cause loose items to blow around, tear off tree branches, and even cause structural damage. Those with a fear of being injured may worry that they will be in the path of destruction. Some people, especially children, may also be afraid that they will be picked up or knocked down by a particularly strong gust.

Medical phobias may also be at the heart of the fear of drafts. Although we now know that illnesses are caused by bacteria or viruses, conventional wisdom has long held that drafty rooms can make people sick. The fear may be heightened in those who suffer from cryophobia, or the fear of cold. Similarly, those who are afraid of swallowing air may worry that excessive stomach gas is a sign of disease.

Anemophobia in Children

Like many phobias, anemophobia is relatively common in young children. Kids are not always able to make sense of the world around them, and infrequent events may be startling or intensely frightening. Consequently, phobias are typically not diagnosed in children unless they persist for at least six months.

If your child has a mild fear of wind, try focusing on playtime activities that utilize the wind in positive ways. Fly kites and experiment with real or toy sailboats. Go outside and talk about how much fun it is to let the wind blow through your hair. Of course, if your child's fear is especially severe or long-lasting, seek the guidance of a trained mental health professional.

In older kids and adults, the fear of wind is much less common. Consider seeking professional assistance with any fear that causes you to limit your daily activities.

Source:

American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th Ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

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