Aquaphobia: When water makes anxiety come in waves

Aquaphobia, otherwise known as the fear of water, is a common phobia varying in type and severity. According to VeryWellMind, a website specializing in mental health and psychology, this phobia may be caused from a past traumatic experience with water such as drowning or a shipwreck, films or from others with traumatic occurrences. For example, if one as a young child sustained a water-related injury, they may now associate water with danger. After popular movie, “Jaws”, was released in 1975, viewers have stated that their fear of water and sharks had spiked drastically.

People living with this fear have a wide spectrum of what specifically causes their anxiety when it comes to water. As said by MedicalNewsToday, some may just fear deep bodies of water or fast-flowing rivers, while others may fear water in all aspects such as bathtubs, pools and hot tubs.

Someone living with aquaphobia may also have symptoms that can range from mild to severe On the milder side, a person can feel slight anxiety in the presence of water and may try to avoid it at all costs, but symptoms get more severe when these fears impact other parts of daily life such as sociability, mental, emotional and physical health. Some of these symptoms may include a rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing, nausea, trembling or shaking, and a tightness or pain in the chest or throat. 

As with many phobias, they can be treated using a variety of methods but should ultimately be evaluated by a licensed healthcare professional first. Two of the most common types of therapy for aquaphobia or just any phobia in general are exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. According to MedicalNewsToday, exposure therapy for someone with aquaphobia may look like starting to talk about water, being presented with images of water, touching water, and then finally getting someone ready to enter a body of water. On the other hand, CBT directly focuses on the thought and behavioral patterns of one with a specific type of phobia. 

Aquaphobia can be treated, but it takes time and patience. If you think you or someone you know may have aquaphobia which dramatically impacts their life, contact a medical professional or talk to a trusted adult about what can be done.