What Is Thalassophobia And How Can You Cope with It?
Updated February 09, 2020
Reviewer Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC
Thalassophobia is a Greek term that translates to "fear of the sea." It includes being afraid of deep water, traveling on water, and creatures that live below the surface. Being afraid of bodies of water can add significant challenges to your life. If you struggle with this fear, you might have to miss events with family and friends, or you might find yourself feeling uncomfortable while those around you are having fun. After all, it's hard to have fun when your heart is racing and your hands are shaking. If you find that you feel afraid when you see deep water, then you may have thalassophobia.
According to psychology, thalassophobia has no known cause, so we do not currently know how to prevent it. However, you can still have hope. This phobia is not permanent because there are many treatment options. Thalassophobia is actually one of the easier phobias to overcome. On average, it only takes a few months for individuals in treatment to triumph over their condition. In severe cases, the phobia can be overcome in one year or less. Thalassophobia can be cured through a variety of methods, including support systems, exposure, and therapy. We will discuss these methods in detail later in this article. For now, hold on to hope because your condition can easily be cured.
Regardless of how or why you experience thalassophobia, it's important to know that you're not alone. This phobia is common, and it is normal. Help is available whenever you're ready to move forward.
How Do I Know I Have Thalassophobia?
To determine if you have thalassophobia, it is important to first understand the difference between fears and phobias. A fear is simply a negative emotional response to an object or event. A phobia comes with such severe anxiety that it negatively impacts the quality of life.
If your fear of deep water interferes with life events, then you're probably experiencing thalassophobia. If it consumes your mind on a regular basis, know that you do not have to suffer from this phobia. Treatment is simple and widely available. If you've always had a fear of the sea, but you're not sure if you'd describe it as a "phobia," then you may want to take a thalassophobia test before seeking treatment. This will help you to determine whether your fear is moderate or severe.
The test is made up of seven multiple-choice questions. You will rank your feelings about a phrase, using the following scale: extremely anxious, very anxious, somewhat anxious, a little, or not at all. It also asks you how severe you'd rate your symptoms and what methods you've used to control them in the past. When you finish, the test will tell you whether or not you have thalassophobia and how severely the phobia may be impacting your life.
If the test indicates that you have this phobia, consider coming up with a plan to help you overcome it.
How Can I Move Forward?
If you have thalassophobia, it may feel debilitating. However, you should know that it is one of the easier mental health challenges to overcome. Through support, exposure, and therapy, you will one day be able to enjoy swimming at the beach or boat rides on the lake with your family and friends.
Finding like-minded support groups can be extremely beneficial when working toward overcoming thalassophobia. Reddit is a great resource for an online support group; you'll quickly find you're not alone. If you've never been on Reddit before, it may be helpful to know that the site is divided into separate forums called "subreddits." Each subreddit is dedicated to a specific theme. The Reddit forum for thalassophobia can be found at r/thalassophobia.
In this Reddit forum, people bond with each other by confronting one of their deepest fears. They post the very images and videos that scare them from the safety of their computers or phones. In doing so, they become more comfortable with the sea and its lifeforms without having to be anywhere near a body of water.
Face Your Fears In Person
Another way to overcome thalassophobia is to face the fear head on. If your fear stems from not being able to swim in deep water, sign up for swimming classes. If you're worried about sea creatures, visit them at an aquarium. If you're able to look directly at your fears, you may be surprised by how quickly you're able to move past them.
Professional Help for Thalassophobia
Thalassophobia can lead to anxiety, depression, and panic attacks if left untreated. If finding a support group and facing your fears is not enough, you may benefit from talking to a therapist. Thalassophobia can improve with both typical talk therapy and a psychological tool called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Therapists employ CBT to lessen or eliminate phobias that are resistant to other methods. It's based on the idea that the perception a situation is more closely tied to the reaction than the situation itself. In other words, anticipation is often worse than the event in question. CBT can transform fears into positive thoughts, an approach that improves your reaction and reduces your fear when later confronted with the phobia in real life.
With support from a professional counselor, you can talk through your fears and erase the phobia from your life completely. If you have a busy schedule or if your phobia makes outings difficult, you may want to speak with an online provider. BetterHelp has experienced counselors who are available to meet with you anywhere and anytime. You can see reviews of BetterHelp Counselors below.
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If you're living with thalassophobia, you can overcome your fears. Your life does not need to be as hard as it is right now. With the right tools and professional help, you can become comfortable with-- and even enjoy--bodies of water once again. Take the first step today.