Thalassophobia – Fear of deep water


What is Thalassophobia?


Thalassobphobia is a persistent, abnormal and intense fear of large and deep bodies of water such as the ocean or a lake. People with thalassophobia often find it difficult to be near an ocean or lake, even pictures or thoughts of lage,  deep bodies of water makes them uneasy, nervous and anxious.

The word thalassophobia stems from the Greek word thalassa means the sea and phobos means fear.


Signs and Impact:


Signs of thalassophobic people falls under the diagnostic criteria of “Specific Phobia: Natural Environment Type” but it isn’t recognized as a distinct disorder in the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorder, fifth edition (DSM-5).

Thalassophobia aside from physical symptoms may also include a variety of psychological, identical to those of a panic attack.

Psychological symptoms of thalassophobia are:

  • Insomnia (lack or disturbance of sleep) 
  • panic and fear of losing control
  • intense and sudden fear or anxiety
  • racing thoughts and overthinking
  • feeling threatened and avoidance of the feared object or situation

The physical symptoms of thalassophobia includes:

  • Rapid heart rate and rapid breathing
  • confusion and dizziness
  • Trembling, sweating and chills
  • headache
  • chest pain
  • dry mouth

A person with thalassophobia experiences all these symptoms when they think about, see, or encounter a deep body or large body of water. 


Root causes of Thalassophobia:


Thalassophobia can be caused by numerous reasons and like other phobias it is likely a combination of nature and nurture. 

Although research on thalassophobia is lacking, there are various factors found that may contribute to the development of thalassophobia such as a variety of genetic, physiological, environmental and familial factors.

Genetic factors:

Some people may have a genetic predisposition to anxiety disorders or specific phobias.if there is a family history of anxiety disorders, it could increase the likelihood of developing phobias like thalassophobia.

Environmental factors:

Traumatic experiences or negative events related to water or the sea during childhood can contribute to the development of thalassophobia.

Psychological factors:

While not strictly biological, a person’s cognitive and emotional processes can influence the development and severity of thalassophobia. For example, a history of generalized anxiety or other phobias may make an individual more susceptible to developing thalassophobia.

Evolutionary factors:

Some researchers believe that thalassophobia might be linked to evolutionary survival instincts. Early humans who were cautious around large bodies of water might have had a better chance of survival, as these environments can be hazardous.

Family dynamics:

Fear is also known to be a learned emotion, so growing up in an anxious family can also develop phobias.

For instance, a child whose mother is very fearful of the ocean or has thalassophobia, may pick up on that anxiety and start to fear the ocean  himself. 


Overcoming with Thalassophobia:


Overcoming thalassophobia, the fear of large bodies of water, is possible with the right approach and support. Here are steps to help you or someone you know address and manage thalassophobia.


Acknowledge the fear:

Recognize and accept that you have thalassophobia. It is the first step towards overcoming your fear. 


Understanding the sea and its elements can help demystify it. learning about how tides work, the creatures that inhabit the ocean, and the safety measures can reduce anxiety.

Gradual exposure:

Exposure therapy is a common and effective approach for overcoming phobias. Start with gradual exposure to water-related stimuli that triggers fear. This might involve looking at pictures of the ocean, visiting a calm and shallow beach, or simply getting used to the sound of waves. 

Support system:

Bring a friend or family member along who can provide emotional support.

Seek professional help:

Consider consulting a mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor, who specializes in treating phobias. 

Deep breathing and Relaxation techniques:

Practice relaxation methods like deep breathing to manage anxiety while nea the water.

Positive visualization:

Use guided imagery to mentally prepare for encounters with water. imagine yourself in a safe and calm environment near the water.


Gradually increase exposure to large bodies of water, moving from smaller bodies to large ones over time. The key is to go at your own pace and not rush the process.

Group therapy:

Group therapy sessions with individuals facing similar feas can provide a supportive envioment fo overcoming phobias.


In some cases, a healthcare professional may prescribe anti-anxiety medications to help manage the symptoms of thalassophobia. This should be considered unde professional guidance. 

Set realistic and achievable goals:

Establish achievable goals for yourself as you work on overcoming thalassophobia. Celebrate your progress along the way.

Patience and Persistence:

Understanding that overcoming a phobia is a process that takes time and effort . Be patient with your progress along the way. 

Remember that everyone’s journey to overcoming a phobia is unique, and it may take time. Seek professional  help, be patient with yourself, and gradually face your fear while using relaxation techniques and positive visualization to help manage anxiety.

 With time and effort, you can make significant progress in managing and eventually overcoming thalassophobia. 




In conclusion, thalassophobia is a complex and deeply rooted fear of the sea or large bodies of water. This fear can manifest differently in individuals, ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain attacks. It can significantly impact a person’s quality of life, limiting their ability to enjoy activities nea water.

However, with the right support and treatment, many individuals can learn to manage and overcome thalassophobia, allowing them to lead more fulfilling lives and potentially enjoy water-related activities without overwhelming fear. It’s essential to seek help from mental health professionals if thalassophobia is causing significant distress or  interference in daily life.

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