Thalassophobia: Fear of the Ocean

Thalassophobia is an irrational fear of the ocean or sea. It is characterized by intense anxiety, panic attacks, and excessive fear when confronted with large bodies of water. People with thalassophobia tend to avoid water-related activities like swimming, surfing, or sailing. This fear can be debilitating and can have a significant impact on their daily life.

Symptoms of Thalassophobia

People with thalassophobia experience various physical and psychological symptoms, including:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath or hyperventilation
  • Sweating, trembling or shaking
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Panic attacks or feelings of doom
  • Intense fear or dread of the ocean

These symptoms can occur when someone is at a beach, watching a movie or reading a book about the sea, or even thinking about the ocean. The intensity of these symptoms varies from person to person and can be more severe in some situations than others.

Causes of Thalassophobia

Thalassophobia can develop due to various reasons, including:

  • Previous traumatic experiences related to water, such as drowning
  • Watching or hearing about water-related accidents, such as shipwrecks or drowning
  • Feeling out of control in water, such as getting caught in a rip current or being dragged under by a wave
  • Hereditary factors, as some research suggests that phobias can be inherited from parents

Thalassophobia can also be a result of other underlying psychological conditions, such as anxiety disorders, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For some people, this fear is so severe that it causes impairment in their daily life and may require professional help.

Treatment for Thalassophobia

Treatment for thalassophobia depends on the severity of the phobia and the underlying causes. Some common treatments include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): This type of therapy helps people learn to manage their anxiety by changing their negative thought patterns and behavior. CBT is one of the most effective treatments for phobias.
  • Exposure therapy: This therapy involves gradually exposing the person to the object of their fear in a controlled and safe environment. Exposure therapy helps the person learn to face their fear more calmly and confidently over time.
  • Virtual reality therapy: This type of therapy immerses the person in simulated environments to help them confront their fear in a realistic and controlled way.
  • Medications: Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can be prescribed to help manage the symptoms of thalassophobia.

It is essential to seek professional help if thalassophobia is interfering with daily life or causing significant distress.

Prevention of Thalassophobia

Preventing thalassophobia can be challenging, but there are some strategies that can help:

  • Learning water safety: Knowing how to swim and understanding water safety can help reduce anxiety in and around the water.
  • Talking about fears: Talking to a trusted friend or family member about fears can help reduce anxiety and provide support.
  • Gradual exposure: Gradually exposing oneself to water-related activities can help reduce anxiety and build confidence over time.
  • Mind-body practices: Meditation, yoga, and other relaxation techniques can help reduce anxiety and promote overall well-being.


Thalassophobia is a prevalent fear that affects many people around the world. It can be debilitating and have a significant impact on a person’s daily life. Treatment can help manage the symptoms and allow the person to live a more fulfilling life. It is essential to seek help if the fear is severe and causing significant distress. By taking preventative measures, such as learning water safety, talking about fears, and gradual exposure, people can help reduce the incidence of thalassophobia and enjoy the beauty of the ocean.


FAQs about Thalassophobia

What is Thalassophobia?

Thalassophobia is an intense fear of the sea or ocean. It can range from a mild anxiety to a severe phobia, causing panic attacks and avoidance of any water-related activity. People with Thalassophobia might be afraid of water in general, including pools, lakes, or even small streams.

What causes Thalassophobia?

Thalassophobia can be caused by many factors, including traumatic experiences related to water, such as drowning or witnessing someone else drowning. It can also be caused by cultural or environmental factors, such as growing up in an area with dangerous sea life or a lack of exposure to water-related activities.

How is Thalassophobia treated?

Thalassophobia can be treated with various methods, including therapy, exposure therapy, and medication. A therapist can help the person identify the root cause of their fear and develop coping mechanisms. Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing the person to water-related situations to desensitize them. In some cases, medication such as beta-blockers or antidepressants may be used to alleviate anxiety symptoms.


1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.).

2. Garcia-Lopez, L. J., & Dantas, C. R. (2019). Fear of the Sea: Origins, Dimensions, and Treatment. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 75(3), 444-450.

3. Huppert, J. D., Siev, J., & Kushner, E. S. (2017). Thalassophobia in adults: Incidence, severity, and comorbidity. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 52, 49-55.