What is Aquaphobia?
Aquaphobia is a persistent and irrational fear of water, it is a social phobia. It is different from hydrophobia which is fear of water developed in later stages of rabies.
People with aquaphobia have an extreme fear of water be it large water bodies, lakes, ponds, or even running water. Aquaphobics even fear water falling on their head and are non-swimmers. Such people conjure the images of dying in water, drowning and gasping for breath. They also imagine encountering eerie, unseen things such as snakes or sharks in the water.
Cause of Aquaphobia
The fear of water develops if the person has witnessed any traumatic incident involving the death of someone after drowning in water, by being pushed in water or having fallen off the boat or deck. Drowning or death of a loved one can also be a reason for developing this fear.
Sometimes, aquaphobia develops if the parents or the caregivers develop fear in children so that they stay away from water. Adults at times give too many cautionary warning or narrate stories or incidents of water accidents. Also, if a parent is suffering from this phobia it’s likely that he might pass it on to the child.
People who are not used to the water, such as the ones who live in the sandy desert might also be the ones suffering from aquaphobia.
Symptoms of Aquaphobia
People, who suffer from aquaphobia display symptoms like anxiety and panic attack at the sight of water, avoiding bathing, rise in blood pressure and heart rate at the sight of water, sweating, shaking and crying.
Such patients avoid water at any cost and might also have poor hygiene as they avoid showers for many days. Symptoms also vary depending upon the extent of phobia. Some individuals feel embarrassed due to their behaviors on being exposed to water, and experience emotional distress.
The most common symptoms presented by people suffering from aquaphobia (Fear of Water) are:
- Excessive fear, anxiety, and panic even when thinking about water.
- Persistent fear when exposed to water.
- Tightness in chest and difficulty in breathing
- Fainting feeling
- Rapid heartbeat
- Avoidance of water
How to Overcome Aquaphobia(Fear of Water)?
Aquaphobia or fear of water does not affect the daily activities of an individual so many people do not seek treatment for it. However, to overcome the distress and effect caused due to the social and recreational activities, following therapy can be taken.
Exposure therapy is the first line of treatment for fear of water. Exposure to an individual’s fear in vivo or virtually, lessen the fear. Also, the therapist notes down the reaction and thoughts and help you manage your related anxiety.
Cognitive behavior therapy helps you learn to challenge the thoughts and beliefs about fear of water. Learning how to challenge fear makes you develop strategies to cope with those thoughts.
There are certain medications prescribed by the doctor which help the phobic to relearn how to react to the fear. These are given along with exposure therapy. Such drugs do not have long-lasting effects and have withdrawal symptoms, therefore, should be avoided.
Psychotherapy along with the support of loved ones help in successfully managing aquaphobia or fear of water.
No two phobias are the same and the treatments are done accordingly. Many options are available to seek help and to overcome the phobia. But first of all the individual, himself, should be keen to get treated, which is very helpful while carrying out the procedures to get rid of the fear.
If you think you fear to be in or around water, consult a doctor. He might help you get rid of it.