What is Thalassophobia or Fear of the Sea?

Thalassophobia or fear of the sea is a kind of phobia in which the sufferer has intense fear of sea. The term thalassophobia is derived from the Greek word 'Thalasso' which means 'sea' and 'Phobos' means 'fear'. The fear arises in some people as soon as they visit a water body like a sea or an ocean.

What is Thalassophobia or Fear of the Sea?

Causes of Thalassophobia or Fear of the Sea

The fear of sea or ocean (or any open, deep water body) is a very common phenomenon in people with thalassophobia or fear of the sea. Fear of the distance from the land, being close to any vast water body and being on a ship can raise the phobia which will lead to nausea and vomiting in the thalassophobia or fear of the sea people. Thalassophobia may sometimes grow in a person due to heredity, old age, or any kind of psychological reason. Cultural factors like certain social situations may cause thalassophobia or fear of the sea in the people. Seeing any underwater image or an image where a deep sea diver is encountering a large sea animal may also build the fear in you and cause thalassophobia or fear of the sea.

Signs and Symptoms of Thalassophobia or Fear of the Sea

In the sufferer of thalassophobia or fear of the sea, when an attack takes place in a person the first prominent symptom is the paleness in skin. Then the person starts sweating, allergic reactions like redness of skin or bright spots on skin can be noticed which the result of the emotional surge that occurs. Soon he or she becomes weak in limb, the heartbeat increases and he or she finds difficulty in breathing. If the attack is mild then thalassophobia or fear of the sea symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headache, nervousness and dizziness are seen. The person imagines a water animal approaching him or her when he or she appears before the water. The fear of drowning and dying raises the thalassophobia or fear of the sea in the person.

If the fear keeps growing in the person then the heartbeat increases. This unnatural change in pace can result in a heart attack or a panic attack which affects the brain. A person who has thalassophobia or fear of the sea may feel shortness of breathing and suffocate which can lead to life risks at places. Mentioning the person to get into the water can also trigger the thalassophobia or fear of the sea.

Complications in Thalassophobia or Fear of the Sea

Thalassophobia or fear of the sea can lead to complications. The fear may develop in the person due to several reasons which may be psychological, cultural or due to some past trauma. The thalassophobia or fear of the sea may manifest itself under certain hidden fear. Continuous exposure to items that might manifest the fear in the person will lead the person towards clinical depression.

Tests to Diagnose Thalassophobia or Fear of the Sea

There are no proper tests for finding out whether the person has thalassophobia/fear of the sea or not. Neurological tests can be done to check the brain readings to identify if the person is phobic or not. The thalassophobia or fear of the sea can also be identified when you notice a certain change in a reaction like a gag reflex in a person when he or she is being exposed to a large water body.

How is Thalassophobia or Fear of the Sea Treated?

Treatment for thalassophobia or fear of the sea involves psychotherapy and psychological ways can be adopted to bring down and treat thalassophobia or fear of the sea in the person by pacifying the person with some image which does not make the person fear and then show another picture of a person in the deep sea. This way the brain can be conditioned to decrease the obsession in the person. This is known as the Exposure therapy. Morita therapy which teaches to go with the flow can also be adopted. Sedatives can be prescribed to bring in control the skin rashes that might appear due to fear. Constant care must be taken while treating thalassophobia or fear of the sea.

Prevention of Thalassophobia or Fear of the Sea

There is no sure way to prevent thalassophobia or fear of the sea. Taking care the fear before it manifests itself into a bigger problem is the best way to prevent the thalassophobia or fear of the sea from settling in you. One should try to get into water bodies to overcome the fear.

Prognosis/Outlook for Thalassophobia or Fear of the Sea

The prognosis is good for thalassophobia or fear of the sea. Depending on the situation of the patient the time required to normalise the patient with thalassophobia or fear of the sea maybe around a few months to a few years.

Lifestyle Changes for Thalassophobia or Fear of the Sea

'To go with the flow' is the best way to handle with the fear. Avoid unnecessary interactions of this topic. Facing your fear to overcome it is thus the most suitable way to handle the fear.

One should learn to swim in order to get over the thalassophobia or fear of the sea. Going for swimming classes can be a start and is a good lifestyle change. Getting an informal therapeutic session could also help the person going through the trauma.

Coping with Thalassophobia or Fear of the Sea

Coping is challenging when you are suffering from thalassophobia or fear of the sea and especially when you have to face your fear every day. Psychological help can be taken to fight the thalassophobia or fear of the sea. Self-care is also possible. You can also go for counselling, hypnosis and neuro linguistic programme therapy (NLP). Cognitive Behaviour therapy (CBT) is another method that you choose to fight thalassophobia or fear of the sea as it helps you to separate your thoughts of real and unreal.

Recovery Period/Healing Time for Thalassophobia or Fear of the Sea

The healing time/recovery period from thalassophobia or fear of the sea depends on the treatment that you have opted for. You can consult your doctor regarding the time consumption of the treatment and also must converse about the fact that thalassophobia or fear of the sea may reoccur to you or not. Recovery will be faster if you get help at the early stage of the thalassophobia or fear of the sea.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: October 20, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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