Aquaphobia: Can water cause fear

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Aquaphobia: Can water cause fear?

Max Bupa

22 May 2019


While water is considered by many as a source of extreme fun and enjoyment, for some people visiting places like water parks or seaside are no less than a nightmare. Such people face an extreme, irrational and persistent threat of water known as ‘aquaphobia’. It’s a fairly common fear which differs in severity from person to person. Traveling through waterways, going near swimming pools, water bodies or even entering a bathtub might seem life threatening to some people. Sometimes even a look at a water body such as an ocean or river may cause trepidation.


The most common cause of this fear is a previous negative and unpleasant occurrence that’s associated with water. A near-drowning incident like those experienced while learning to swim or a death caused to a known person concerned with water may cause that terror in the mind of the affected person. The way we handle these situations determine whether a phobia will stay or not.


The symptoms of aquaphobia may vary according to sufferers. The common ones include an elevated heart rate, shivering, freezing, sweating, hyperventilation, anxiety and panic attacks with the sight or thought of water. Extreme evasion of water bodies is another common symptom of this phobia.


Though it’s all in the mind, there are some treatment options available to cure aquaphobic people. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common treatment choice where the focus is on removing negative thoughts from the affected person’s mind. Negative contemplations associated with the feared situation are replaced with rational and positive ones. This also includes homework assignments like visiting a water body and spending time safely at the shore or stepping inside a bathtub half filled with water for a specific period of time, to get rid of the fear. In more serious cases, therapies like hypnosis or psychotherapy can be made use of.

There are several treatments possible according to the harshness of the phobia that’s different in different persons. Dealing with fear of water can be harsh on the victim but it can be managed and successfully overcome. The fearfulness associated with water can be removed and the quality of life can surely be improved.


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