Medically reviewed by Marney A. White, PhD, MS.

Thalassophobia is a fear of the ocean or other large bodies of water. This phobia may stop people from visiting the beach, swimming in the sea, or traveling by boat.

Thalassophobia can cause manifestations going from gentle to serious — a few people may feel marginally terrified of profound water or the sea, while others may locate that taking a gander at the ocean or pictures of it triggers sentiments of frenzy.

This article investigates what thalassophobia is, signs and manifestations, expected causes, and medicines.

What is thalassophobia?

Phobias are a sort of tension issue. “Thalassophobia” alludes to a dread of the sea or other enormous, profound waterways.

An individual with thalassophobia might fear the boundlessness or void of the sea, the ocean animals in the water, or both.

Thalassophobia is not the same as aquaphobia, which is a dread of water itself. Aquaphobia can incorporate a dread of being in any waterway, including little ones.

How common is thalassophobia?

Phobias are extremely normal. As indicated by proficient symptomatic models, roughly 7–9% of individuals in the United States have a particular fear at whatever year.

Notwithstanding, there are no appraisals of the number of individuals live with thalassophobia explicitly.

Signs of thalassophobia

An individual with thalassophobia encounters sentiments of dread and nervousness about the ocean or another enormous waterway that don’t coordinate the degree of peril that the water postures to them at that point.

A person with thalassophobia may be afraid of:

  • being near the ocean
  • going in the ocean
  • visiting beaches
  • traveling on boats

In serious cases, manifestations might be set off by pictures or musings of the sea or other profound waterways.

The tension that thalassophobia causes initiates the “battle, flight, or freeze” reaction, which is the body’s method of getting ready for threat. This produces actual manifestations, for example, perspiring, quicker breathing, and a raised pulse.

In more extreme cases, this reaction grows into a fit of anxiety, which may cause:

  • lightheadedness
  • rapid breathing, or hyperventilation
  • heart palpitations
  • trembling or shaking
  • sweating
  • the feeling of choking
  • nausea, with or without vomiting

During a fit of anxiety, an individual may feel as though they may swoon, that they are losing control, or that they may pass on. Be that as it may, in spite of the fact that they can feel intense, alarm assaults are not perilous in themselves.

Individuals with thalassophobia may likewise feel separated while they are encountering side effects. Separation is an inclination of being detached from the body or the current circumstance.

The pressure coming about because of thalassophobia may make an individual maintain a strategic distance from any circumstance that may trigger the manifestations.

Causes

In some cases, an individual builds up a phobia after an awful mishap. Trauma is a reaction to extraordinary pressure, which may originate from:

  • direct experience of something dangerous or distressing
  • witnessing something traumatic happening to someone else
  • the transmission of information, such as news coverage or films
  • having an unexpected panic attack, which can lead to a fear of the situation or location in which the attack took place

Individuals with thalassophobia may have had negative early encounters with the sea or felt hazardous while figuring out how to swim. Or on the other hand, they may have gotten terrified of the ocean subsequent to seeing news inclusion of an occasion, for example, a shark assault or tidal wave.

Individuals can likewise create fears as grown-ups.

Diagnosis

Psychiatrists and psychologists use criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition — commonly called the DSM-5 — to diagnose phobias such as thalassophobia. A person may have a phobia if they:

  • experience significant anxiety about an object or situation
  • almost always feel immediate anxiety when confronted with the object or situation
  • actively avoid the object or situation to cope with their anxiety
  • experience anxiety that is out of proportion with the threat that the object or situation poses
  • have experienced these symptoms for 6 months or more
  • have no other mental health conditions that would explain the fear

Treatment

Phobia treatment typically involves therapy. Someone with thalassophobia may benefit from several types, including:

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy. The aim is to help a person challenge unhelpful thoughts and beliefs in order to reduce the anxiety that they cause.

For example, in a CBT session for thalassophobia, a therapist may help someone learn to identify anxious thoughts about the ocean and understand how those thoughts affect their emotions, physical symptoms, and behavior.

Over time, CBT can help people question whether their thinking or behavior patterns are helpful, realistic, or appropriate for the current situation. This can help the person change their responses to a phobia trigger, reducing their anxiety.

A person may also benefit from cognitive processing therapy, which is similar and designed specifically for people who have experienced trauma.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy involves a person coming into close contact with the things or situations that scare them. Sometimes, this contact is simulated or imagined.

The aim may be to prove that something is not dangerous much less dangerous than the person believes. Exposure therapy can also help someone feel more confident in their ability to cope, should they face the situation that they are afraid of.

During exposure therapy, a therapist helps a person confront their fear in a safe, controlled environment. This can occur in several ways:

  • In vivo exposure: This involves direct contact with the phobia trigger.
  • Imaginal exposure: This involves a person imagining the object or situation that they fear in detail. A person with thalassophobia may think about or describe the ocean during these sessions.
  • Virtual reality exposure: This involves using technology to simulate the experience of engaging with a particular object or situation. Therapists may use this technique when it is not possible to try in vivoexposure.

Graded exposure involves very gradual exposure to the phobia trigger, while “flooding” involves beginning with the most difficult tasks.

Medication

Medications can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and fear, but they do not cure phobias. For example, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, commonly called SSRIs, are a type of antidepressant that doctors use to manage anxiety.

Coping strategies

Phobias can be disruptive and difficult to manage. But if someone unexpectedly comes across a phobia trigger, the following coping techniques may help:

  • Breathing exercises: Slow, steady breathing can help stop hyperventilation and make it possible to return to a calmer state. When anxiety begins to rise, try exhaling in long, slow breaths. Or, try 4-7-8 breathing.
  • Mindfulness: This technique involves staying in the present moment, and it can reduce tension if a person is worried about something that has already happened or might occur. A person can do this by noticing and focusing on their breathing, physical sensations, or surroundings.
  • Distraction: Focusing on something else can be a temporary solution for anxiety. It may help to speak with a friend or family member, watch a video, or listen to music.
  • Self-compassion: If a person experiences anxiety unexpectedly, they may feel embarrassed or that they have failed. But it is not always possible to prevent negative emotions, and it is normal to have good days and bad days. Being self-compassionate can ease any stress that a person feels about their anxiety.

When to seek help

If thalassophobia is causing significant distress or interfering with work and everyday life, help is available. A doctor or therapist can provide advice or treatment.

If a person does not have health insurance, low-cost or free options may be available. Some therapists offer sliding-scale fees, for example.

Summary

Thalassophobia is a fear of the ocean or other large bodies of water. It may stem from a traumatic childhood event, which a person may have experienced directly, seen, possibly onscreen, or heard about.

Several types of therapy, including CBT and exposure therapy, can help reduce the impact of phobias. In the shorter term, coping strategies such as breathing exercises, self-compassion, and mindfulness can help people manage anxiety as it arises.

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