What is Thalassophobia? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

Some people are fearful of the ocean and avoid it even the movies based on deep water. Today, we’ll discuss what is thalassophobia; its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

Most people have got a healthy and rational fear of the ocean because it’s dark, deep, and unknown. When you jump into the ocean miles offshore, then it takes a lot of courage for a normal person. People with thalassophobic conditions have got an intense fear of deep water. In fact, it is difficult for them to see the images of the ocean which cause them panic attacks.

What is Thalassophobia? 

Thalassophobia is a form of phobia comprised of intense and persistent fear of deep water like lakes and oceans. People with thalassophobic conditions avoid deep water because it causes them anxiety attacks. However, they experience a high and extreme level of fear-relevant to the actual danger.

The 5th edition of DSM (diagnostic manual of mental disorder) hasn’t acknowledged thalassophobia as a distinct disorder. The diagnostic criteria for its symptoms fall under the category of natural environment type. However, some of the other types of phobia relevant to thalassophobia and their overlapping symptoms comprise of following types of phobias;

  • Atelophobia (fearful of flood)
  • Nyctophobia (fearful of dark)
  • Cymophobia (fearful of waves)
  • Megalohydrothalassophobia (fearful of large objects and creatures underwater)
  • Bathophobia (fearful of depth)
  • Aquaphobia (fearful of water)

Symptoms of Thalassophobia 

The symptoms of thalassophobic condition would happen when you come across or see the image of the deep water. Some of the psychological and emotional symptoms of the thalassophobic condition are as follows;

  • Avoiding fearful situations and objects
  • Racing thoughts
  • Insomnia
  • Fearful of losing control over yourself
  • Panic attack
  • Dread
  • Sudden intense attack of fear and anxiety

Some of the physical symptoms of thalassophobia are as follows;

  • Confusion
  • Chill
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Heartbeat rapidly
  • Breathlessness and breathing rapidly
  • Trembling or shaking

Triggering Factors 

Some of the triggering factors that would cause the development of thalassophobic symptoms are as follows;

  • Movies and photos of any water/lake/ocean
  • Mythical/realistic sea creatures
  • Submarines
  • Scuba diving
  • Swimming
  • Boats
  • Lakes
  • Oceans

Causes of Thalassophobia 

There are various factors involved in the development of thalassophobic symptoms. Some of the main causes are as follows;


Phobia and anxiety disorder have hereditary traits and they run in the family. A study conducted in 2014 showed that 67% of the participants have got 30% to 50% hereditary traits.

Brain Circuitry

When our safety and the safety of others are at the risk, then it triggers our fearful emotions. Whenever you come across any potential danger, it activates the fight or flight response in your body through a certain type of mechanism and brain circuits.

A study conducted in 2017 showed that the dysfunction in the brain circuits results in the form of anxiety disorder, phobia, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).


Traumatic events and bad experiences in life trigger different types of phobia like thalassophobia. For instance, a person has a near-death drowning experience, or they have witnessed the death of the other person in the deep water. Such traumatic events go by the name of experiential specific phobias and they trigger the phobia. The phobia is caused by any type of traumatic event, you can call it a non-experiential phobia.

Family Dynamics

If your upbringing is such an anxious family environment, then it plays a significant role in the development of a phobia. It’s because fearful emotions could be learned. For instance, the mother of the child has got fear of emotion, and the child has learned anxiety and fear of deep water from her company.

Treatment of Thalassophobia 

Some of the main treatment plans for thalassophobia are as follows;

Relaxation Techniques

Mental relaxation techniques comprise mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing; and they all would help you to lower the symptoms of stress and anxiety.


The medicines doctors prescribe to lower the symptoms of anxiety in the thalassophobic conditions are propranolol, beta-blockers, Xanax, valium, and other benzodiazepines.

CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)

When it comes to dealing with the symptoms of phobia, CBT comprises exposure therapy and desensitization. They expose a person to the triggering factors until the symptoms of anxiety and stress become manageable. In the thalassophobic condition, they expose a person to the images of deep water, and ocean movies and the person has the motivation to visit the beaches.

If you leave thalassophobia untreated, then it would badly impact the person’s life. For instance, the person with a thalassophobic condition would keep on avoiding anything that is relevant to lakes and oceans; whether it’s real, an image, or a movie.

When you avoid fear for a long period of time, then it would aggravate the condition. If you come across the triggering factors, then you would face a panic attack.

Conclusion: What is Thalassophobia? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is thalassophobia; its symptoms, causes, and treatment; we have realized that it could badly impact a person’s life if left untreated. If you’re experiencing its symptoms, then you should consult with the therapist in your area to work on the treatment plan.