Phobias have a wide variety of characteristics in relation to the stimulus that generates fear. This means that until now a long list of phobias has been identified, each of them describes a particular fear that in turn could be associated with others. For this reason, different categories of phobias have been made; one of which is known by the name of specific phobias.

Specific phobias are characterized precisely by developing fear of a single stimulus to which it is associated with equally specific reactions. In this way, the patient will always show the same symptoms when in contact with what he fears. Some of the phobias that belong to this category are more common than others, usually those considered as the rarest also belong to this category.

One of the most common phobias that is one that is related to the fear of the sea, ocean or other tributaries of natural water . In the same way, the same degree of anxiety can be experienced with respect to swimming pools and other places where water is stored. This phobias is known by the name of thalassophobia, below we analyze what are its characteristics, causes and treatments.

What is thalassophobia? 

Thalassophobia is a type of phobia characterized by fear of the sea and everything related to it. People who suffer from this condition feel irrational and extreme fear when observing or being near the sea , specifically they fear what can be found at the bottom of it. These individuals feel high levels of anxiety in these situations, therefore their reactions can be defensive or instead they could be immobilized.

It belongs to the group of specific phobias which describe fears that arise from identified and unique stimuli. This means that people will only react to these stimuli in the same way each time they have contact with them. It is considered to be one of the less common phobias today because statistically few cases of this type are registered .

They are also related to the fear of depth . These individuals are not capable of swimming in the open sea or in pools, in the most serious cases they could even avoid fountains or where water is stored in large proportions. Specifically, they will avoid looking at the bottom because they fear that something is there, the perception of danger remains constant.

Etymologically the term thalassophobia, the word thalassophobia can also be used , it has its origin in the Greek language composed from the union of two words. The first one is “thalassa” which means sea, the second word is “Phobos” which refers to fear.

What are the characteristics of thalassophobia? 

The main characteristic of this condition is that patients fear that something negative will happen with respect to the sea. They constantly think that it is possible to drown or that something found at the bottom of the sea could attack them. Permanently uncertainty is felt by not knowing what can be found in the depth, for this reason high levels of anxiety are generated.

This same can be related to other phobias such as that of marine animals, such as sharks. The perception of danger may be directly related to these animals, but in other people it will focus directly on the water as such.

Multiple events can occur in these geographic areas, natural events such as water eddies that are generated under the surface can be the reason for fear. In the same way, the imagination could allow these people to think that any type of object that is in the background can cause some type of damage.

An easily identifiable change in behavior can be observed during panic attacks. Some of the most common symptoms are tremors, increased sweating, increased breathing rate as well as inability to move. In some cases, patients may feel overwhelmed due to the stress they experience during these situations.

People will avoid carrying out any type of activity that is related to the sea, they will even avoid having contact with it. Depending on the severity of the phobia that the patient suffers , panic attacks may be experienced . These arise from stepping on the seashore or simply observing an image that represents this natural space.

Any type of reference that can be associated with the sea such as boats, beaches, swimsuits, swimming pools , equipment for divers and others; They are all sufficient reasons to generate anxiety in the patient. This happens only in the most serious cases, however generally fear only manifests itself when people are physically present in these places.

What are your causes? 

The causes for the development of thalaphobia usually indicate experiencing some kind of traumatic event from the past . However, this is not the rule that applies to all cases. In some individuals it may be more difficult to pinpoint its origin. So far, various theories have been proposed that attempt to provide an explanation.

The ocean, the sea and other tributaries are sufficient cause for fear that people affected with this phobia begin to express their discomfort. The sum of several elements can contribute to the development of this phobia, some consider that there are people who are more likely to be sensitive to experiencing anxiety disorders .

There is also the possibility that the genetic factor in combination with previous negative experiences is the ideal combination for the development of this phobia. Thus, there are people who may have participated in shipwrecks, natural events such as tsunamis or ship accidents; This leads to possibly post-traumatic stress disorder.

What is your treatment? 

According to specialists, it is possible to overcome this phobia effectively by applying certain treatments. As with other types of similar phobias, it is best to have the support of a specialist psychologist or psychiatrist who must first officially diagnose this condition. A series of sessions is required where the patient will be psychologically evaluated, in this way the most appropriate treatment is determined.

By antonomasia it is considered that the ideal therapy to treat this pathology is the cognitive behavioral therapy . This resource is capable of modifying the patient’s behavior, in this way all negative thoughts that arise with respect to the phobic stimulus are replaced. Consequently, favorable changes will be observed both in behavior and at the mental level.

It can be combined with other types of pharmacological treatments based on the administration of anxiolytics . However, this must be done in a monitored and controlled manner, only the medical professional is able to determine exactly the type of medication and the doses.

Considering the post-traumatic stress that the patient may experience, to control their restlessness it is recommended that patients always be taught relaxation and meditation techniques. Eventually, the adoption of behaviors that demonstrate a better handling of one’s own emotions is observed.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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