Fear of the ocean name

Thalassophobia (Fear of the Ocean): Symptoms, Diagnosis

Thalassophobia is an intense phobia or fear of large bodies of water. If you have thalassophobia, you may be afraid of the ocean, sea, and large lakes.

Some people may deal with a little anxiety about the ocean. But for others being afraid of the sea can be a bigger problem. If your fear of the sea is so persistent and intense that it affects your way of life, you may have thalassophobia.

The meaning of thalassophobia

The word thalassophobia comes from the Greek word thalassa, meaning sea, and the word phobos, meaning fear.

Having a specific phobia affects an estimated 5 to 10 percent of people in the United States. Some phobias peak when you’re a child and resolve as you grow older, but others can peak in adulthood.

Keep reading to learn more about the symptoms and causes of thalassophobia, along with treatment options for overcoming your fear of the ocean.

When you have a specific phobia like a fear of the ocean, you may feel an intense fear of something even at moments when it may not pose a danger to you. Your body may respond to seeing or being near a large body of water by triggering severe symptoms of anxiety.

Having a phobia is an anxiety disorder. Thalassophobia symptoms can be similar to those of anxiety.

Symptoms of anxiety can include:

  • restlessness, feeling on edge or worried
  • inability to concentrate
  • irritability
  • muscle tension
  • sweating or looking flushed
  • heart palpitations or increased heart rate
  • shaking or trembling
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • a feeling of impending doom
  • a sense of loss of control
  • upset stomach
  • chills or hot flashes
  • trouble sleeping

Thalassophobia can negatively affect your quality of life.

Sometimes the symptoms of thalassophobia can be more severe and may cause a panic attack.

How do I know if I’m experiencing a panic attack?

Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear that come on quickly, with symptoms peaking within minutes. During a panic attack, you may experience:

  • heart palpitations
  • excessive sweating
  • shaking
  • sudden shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • feeling of impending doom
  • feeling of losing control

If you have a fear of the ocean, feelings of anxiety can show up at any time when you think of, go to, or see the ocean. For example, they may appear when you’re near a beach or driving past the ocean. They can occur when you’re flying over the ocean in a plane.

Depending on the severity of your thalassophobia, you may experience anxiety when looking at an ocean photograph or even hearing the word “ocean.”

A 2014 study about a different phobia — arachnophobia, a fear of spiders — aimed to measure the threat levels experienced by those with the phobia compared with those without. Participants looked at images of spiders, other animals, and foods. Researchers found that those with the specific phobia of spiders saw the images of spiders as a more significant threat than those without arachnophobia.

This suggests that for people with a specific phobia, even seeing images of the object of their phobia may trigger feelings of anxiety.

There are various reasons why someone may develop a fear of the ocean.

A bad experience with water may lead to a fear response and phobia. For instance, if you nearly drowned while swimming in a lake or saw a shark in the ocean, you may develop an intense fear.

Phobias can also develop without any experience or trauma. These types of non-experiential phobias may develop from the following causes:

  • Genetic factors. A 2015 review of research suggests that anxiety disorders, such as having specific phobias, may be inherited to a moderate extent. However, larger studies and additional research are needed to further support this.
  • Environmental factors. Hearing about or experiencing traumatic events in large bodies of water, such as a drowning in the ocean, may contribute to someone developing thalassophobia.
  • Biological factors. If the brain has a dysfunction in processing fear, it may be easier for a phobia like thalassophobia to develop.

Another contributing factor specific to thalassophobia may be a fear of the unknown. When a person doesn’t have enough information or cannot control a situation or environment, it can cause fear and anxiety. Some people may be more sensitive to unknown experiences.

Scientists suggest that a fear of the sea may be primal rather than irrational, especially when thinking about the deep sea. They suggest that when thinking about places people haven’t experienced, like the ocean and the deep sea, imagination can take over.

However, if your fear is severe and disrupts your daily life, consider talking with a mental health professional who can help you manage or overcome your phobia.

If you believe you may have a specific phobia, the first step toward overcoming your phobia is to visit a doctor. A primary care doctor may perform tests to rule out a physical illness.

A doctor will likely perform an evaluation involving the following:

  • physical exam
  • review of medical history
  • review of symptoms
  • lab tests

Lab tests help the doctor rule out other conditions that mimic similar symptoms, such as hyperthyroidism or heart disease.

You may be then referred to a psychiatrist or other mental health professional for a diagnosis. They will determine whether your anxiety meets the criteria for a specific phobia outlined in the guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

According to these guidelines, the object or situation of the specific phobia must:

  • almost always cause marked fear or anxiety
  • cause anxiety that’s not proportionate to the danger of the object or situation
  • cause avoidance or endurance with extreme anxiety and discomfort
  • cause significant distress or impair your ability to function in important areas of your life
  • cause anxiety that’s persistent, lasting 6 months or more
  • not be better explained by another mental health condition

Overcoming your fear of the ocean can be possible with proper treatment.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most effective treatments for overcoming a specific phobia, such as a fear of the ocean. In a therapy session, a mental health professional may help gradually desensitize you to the presence of large bodies of water.

They may begin with less anxiety-inducing triggers, such as images of calm water, while helping reinforce the idea that the ocean and other large bodies of water are safe. Then, they work with you to develop coping mechanisms and teach you relaxation techniques.

They may use another technique known as flooding. With this treatment, they work to increase your exposure to large bodies of water to reduce your fear and decrease your anxiety.

Eventually, it may even mean visiting a beach or dipping your toes in the ocean with a professional at your side. Over time, this type of safe exposure can help reduce your overall fear of the sea.


Medications may also be able to help treat anxiety symptoms.

Antianxiety medications may help reduce the emotional and physical symptoms of anxiety. They are typically prescribed for severe anxiety that impairs someone’s ability to function.

Benzodiazepines are medications that may be effective in the short-term reduction of symptoms. However, doctors may prescribe these medications only in severe circumstances since they carry a high risk of dependency.

Natural remedies

Some natural remedies and techniques may also help reduce your anxiety or calm you down. They can include:

  • herbal teas
  • CBD
  • herbal supplements
  • journaling
  • meditation
  • exercise
  • support groups

Virtual reality exposure therapy

Some newer methods may also be used to treat phobias, such as virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET). This type of therapy can provide controlled and gradual exposure to the object of your phobia while allowing for an immersive experience.

However, since VRET is relatively new, more research is needed to determine how effective it is.

Online therapy options

Depending on your circumstances, virtual therapy may be an accessible option for people with a phobia of the ocean.

Please read our review of the best online therapy options to find the right fit for you.

Anxiety disorders like thalassophobia may make life challenging, but there are things you can do to help prevent anxiety attacks if you have this condition.

Identify and manage your triggers

It’s a good idea to be mindful of your stressors to avoid experiences that lead to anxiety.

If you drive by a lake on your way to work, consider an alternate route until you have progressed in overcoming your phobia. Likewise, if your friends want to go to the beach on vacation, you can suggest an alternative location.

Prioritize your health and wellness

Regular exercise and a balanced diet may help reduce symptoms of anxiety. In addition, a wellness routine could prevent stress or irritability.

Avoid drugs and alcohol

Sometimes it may feel some substances like drugs and alcohol temporarily relieve your anxiety symptoms. However, they can actually make things worse while also disrupting your sleep. This can lead to more stress.

Follow the guidance of a mental health professional

Mental health professionals have experience helping people overcome anxiety disorders and phobias. Progressing in your therapy may help reduce your thalassophobia.

If you have a fear of the ocean or any other phobia that impacts your quality of life, your first step is to talk with a doctor or a mental health professional. If you don’t already have one, the Healthline Find Care tool can show options for healthcare professionals in your area.

If you’re struggling with your mental health due to your phobia, these organizations can help:

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): NAMI has a phone and text crisis line.
  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIH): The NIH has a complete list of immediate and long-term help resources.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free 24/7 resource to help people in a crisis.

Another way to get support is by talking with your loved ones. One in 5 adults living in the United States experiences a form of mental illness every year. Support from others may help you cope with thalassophobia while you work to manage and overcome your phobia.

Thalassophobia, or a fear of the ocean, is a specific phobia that can negatively affect your quality of life. If you need help overcoming your fear of the sea, a mental health professional can help.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a treatment option for thalassophobia along with exposure therapy. Both treatments have a high success rate. In addition, treating your fear of the ocean can help restore your quality of life in time.

Causes and treatments for the fear of the ocean

Thalassophobia is a fear of the ocean or other large bodies of water. This phobia may stop people from visiting the beach, swimming in the sea, or traveling by boat.

Thalassophobia can cause symptoms ranging from mild to severe — some people may feel slightly afraid of deep water or the ocean, while others may find that looking at the sea or images of it triggers feelings of panic.

This article explores what thalassophobia is, signs and symptoms, potential causes, and treatments.

Phobias are a type of anxiety disorder. The word “thalassophobia” refers to a fear of the ocean or other large, deep bodies of water.

A person with thalassophobia may be afraid of the vastness or emptiness of the ocean, the sea creatures in the water, or both.

Thalassophobia is different from aquaphobia, which is a fear of water itself. Aquaphobia can include a fear of being in any body of water, including small ones.

Phobias are very common. According to professional diagnostic criteria, approximately 7–9% of people in the United States have a specific phobia in any given year.

However, there are no estimates of how many people live with thalassophobia specifically.

A person with thalassophobia experiences feelings of fear and anxiety about the sea or another large body of water that do not match the level of danger that the water poses to them at that moment.

A person with thalassophobia may be afraid of:

  • being near the ocean
  • going in the ocean
  • visiting beaches
  • traveling on boats

In severe cases, symptoms may be triggered by images or thoughts of the ocean or other deep bodies of water.

The anxiety that thalassophobia causes activates the “fight, flight, or freeze” response, which is the body’s way of preparing for danger. This produces physical symptoms, such as sweating, faster breathing, and an elevated heart rate.

In more severe cases, this response escalates into a panic attack, which may cause:

  • lightheadedness
  • rapid breathing, or hyperventilation
  • heart palpitations
  • trembling or shaking
  • sweating
  • the feeling of choking
  • nausea, with or without vomiting

During a panic attack, a person may feel as if they may faint, that they are losing control, or that they might die. However, although they can feel very serious, panic attacks are not dangerous in themselves.

People with thalassophobia may also feel dissociated while they are experiencing symptoms. Dissociation is a feeling of being disconnected from the body or the current situation.

The stress resulting from thalassophobia may cause a person to avoid any situation that might trigger the symptoms.

Sometimes, a person develops a phobia after a traumatic event. Trauma is a response to extreme stress, which may stem from:

  • direct experience of something dangerous or distressing
  • witnessing something traumatic happening to someone else
  • the transmission of information, such as news coverage or films
  • having an unexpected panic attack, which can lead to a fear of the situation or location in which the attack took place

People with thalassophobia may have had negative early experiences with the ocean or felt unsafe while learning to swim. Or, they may have become afraid of the sea after seeing news coverage of an event such as a shark attack or tsunami.

It is common for people to not remember any specific event that triggered their phobia. Specific phobias, such as thalassophobia, often develop in early childhood, which can make it difficult to remember the initial cause.

People can also develop phobias as adults.

Psychiatrists and psychologists use criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition — commonly called the DSM-5 — to diagnose phobias such as thalassophobia. A person may have a phobia if they:

  • experience significant anxiety about an object or situation
  • almost always feel immediate anxiety when confronted with the object or situation
  • actively avoid the object or situation to cope with their anxiety
  • experience anxiety that is out of proportion with the threat that the object or situation poses
  • have experienced these symptoms for 6 months or more
  • have no other mental health conditions that would explain the fear

Phobia treatment typically involves therapy. Someone with thalassophobia may benefit from several types, including:

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy. The aim is to help a person challenge unhelpful thoughts and beliefs in order to reduce the anxiety that they cause.

For example, in a CBT session for thalassophobia, a therapist may help someone learn to identify anxious thoughts about the ocean and understand how those thoughts affect their emotions, physical symptoms, and behavior.

Over time, CBT can help people question whether their thinking or behavior patterns are helpful, realistic, or appropriate for the current situation. This can help the person change their responses to a phobia trigger, reducing their anxiety.

A person may also benefit from cognitive processing therapy, which is similar and designed specifically for people who have experienced trauma.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy involves a person coming into close contact with the things or situations that scare them. Sometimes, this contact is simulated or imagined.

The aim may be to prove that something is not dangerous much less dangerous than the person believes. Exposure therapy can also help someone feel more confident in their ability to cope, should they face the situation that they are afraid of.

During exposure therapy, a therapist helps a person confront their fear in a safe, controlled environment. This can occur in several ways:

  • In vivo exposure: This involves direct contact with the phobia trigger.
  • Imaginal exposure: This involves a person imagining the object or situation that they fear in detail. A person with thalassophobia may think about or describe the ocean during these sessions.
  • Virtual reality exposure: This involves using technology to simulate the experience of engaging with a particular object or situation. Therapists may use this technique when it is not possible to try in vivoexposure.

Graded exposure involves very gradual exposure to the phobia trigger, while “flooding” involves beginning with the most difficult tasks.


Medications can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and fear, but they do not cure phobias. For example, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, commonly called SSRIs, are a type of antidepressant that doctors use to manage anxiety.

Phobias can be disruptive and difficult to manage. But if someone unexpectedly comes across a phobia trigger, the following coping techniques may help:

  • Breathing exercises: Slow, steady breathing can help stop hyperventilation and make it possible to return to a calmer state. When anxiety begins to rise, try exhaling in long, slow breaths. Or, try 4-7-8 breathing.
  • Mindfulness: This technique involves staying in the present moment, and it can reduce tension if a person is worried about something that has already happened or might occur. A person can do this by noticing and focusing on their breathing, physical sensations, or surroundings.
  • Distraction: Focusing on something else can be a temporary solution for anxiety. It may help to speak with a friend or family member, watch a video, or listen to music.
  • Self-compassion: If a person experiences anxiety unexpectedly, they may feel embarrassed or that they have failed. But it is not always possible to prevent negative emotions, and it is normal to have good days and bad days. Being self-compassionate can ease any stress that a person feels about their anxiety.

If thalassophobia is causing significant distress or interfering with work and everyday life, help is available. A doctor or therapist can provide advice or treatment.

If a person does not have health insurance, low-cost or free options may be available. Some therapists offer sliding-scale fees, for example.

Learn how to find free online therapy.

Thalassophobia is a fear of the ocean or other large bodies of water. It may stem from a traumatic childhood event, which a person may have experienced directly, seen, possibly onscreen, or heard about.

Several types of therapy, including CBT and exposure therapy, can help reduce the impact of phobias. In the shorter term, coping strategies such as breathing exercises, self-compassion, and mindfulness can help people manage anxiety as it arises.

How to overcome fear of water and swimming

Fear of water (thalassophobia) is the fear of being in or near large bodies of water, seas, oceans. This is a common fear among the population, especially among people who cannot swim.

In this article, we will offer you some basic water exercises that will help you overcome this fear. But first, let's talk about the causes of the fear of water.

Fear of water - causes

Fear of water can have many causes. It often expresses itself as an instinctive fear associated with the fear of drowning or caused by fear of the unknown, of what might be lurking beneath the surface of the water in deep, murky waters.

Fear of water may be related to a bad experience that happened in childhood. Perhaps the fear of water was passed on to the child from parents who themselves were afraid of water. Or the fear was built in by swim instructors who used inadequate or stress-inducing swimming teaching methods.

Putting things into perspective

Everyone's level of confidence in the water is different, and that level can change depending on the circumstances. For example, someone acquired basic swimming skills as a child, and those skills have developed with practice over the past few years. Now he is not afraid to swim in the pool or in small and medium ponds. However, if he is swimming in a lake, sea or ocean, he still experiences a certain level of anxiety before swimming, especially if he is in an unfamiliar place. Even experienced swimmers can sometimes experience fear of the water, or at least a certain level of anxiety.

Basic exercises - instructions

And now let's try to get rid of the fear of water by doing a few basic exercises in the water. To ensure maximum comfort when performing these exercises, we suggest the following:

  • All exercises can and should be done in shallow water. The water will not rise above chest level, so you can always feel safe.
  • It is best to exercise in a pool of clear water - you will see what is (or rather, what is not) in the water, and therefore you will be more relaxed than if you were exercising in opaque water.
  • Swimming goggles are recommended when exercising. Water will not get into your eyes, and you can keep them open at all times, which will help you relax.
  • The person who will be by your side during the exercise can be of great help, especially if he or she is an experienced swimmer who is comfortable in the water.
  • Ideally, you should do the exercises when the pool is not crowded, so as not to be nervous about people splashing water around you. There is no need to rush to exercise. Even if you manage to complete only one exercise per workout in the pool, it doesn't matter. Always stop if you feel stressed.

Even if it takes you weeks or months to complete all the exercises and overcome your fear of water, so be it. Think small steps.

Get to know the basic water exercises that will help you overcome your fear of water in our next news! And our swim training products will help you master swimming techniques.

13 Apr 2021

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What is thalassophobia and how does it differ from hydrophobia?

What is thalassophobia and how is it different from hydrophobia? - FoxTimeWhat is thalassophobia and how is it different from hydrophobia? – Fox Time

We live in a very difficult time, when many people began to develop various anxiety disorders and phobias. It cannot be said that there were no such manifestations before, they were, but they were studied rather poorly or no importance was attached to this at all. Today we will consider such a fear as thalassophobia and tell you how it differs from hydrophobia (aquaphobia).

Thalassophobia is an intense fear of deep bodies of water such as the sea, oceans, pools and lakes. This fear should not be confused with hydrophobia (aquaphobia) - the fear of water as such. Thalassophobia can include the fear of being in deep waters, fear of the vast emptiness of the sea, sea waves, water creatures, and fear of being far from land. Hydrophobia is characterized by a general feeling of panic about water, while thalassophobia is more related to the expanse and depth of that water. While both phobias are related to water, hydrophobia can be caused by a single event, while thalassophobia comes from an element of one's own subconscious regarding what is in the water.

Causes of fears and evolution

Photo / Jeremy Bishop / unsplash.com

The causes of thalassophobia are not clear and are the subject of research, since they can vary greatly in different people. The researchers suggested that the fear of large bodies of water is partly an evolutionary human response, and may also be due to the influence of modern mass culture. It is also suggested that the psychology behind the phobia stems from the symbolic nature of water. In particular, the immensity of the sea is often associated with the unconsciousness of man.

The severity of thalassophobia and the associated signs and symptoms are quite variable and complex. People with thalassophobia experience numerous episodes of emotional and physical distress caused by various triggers. Treatment may include therapy and anxiolytics and is most effective when administered to patients in childhood, when the severity of thalassophobia is usually at its peak.

It is believed that the fear of large bodies of water is an evolutionary and hereditary trait, passed down from generation to generation. People prefer certainty over risk and adapt based on learning history and situational variables. A 2016 study by Nicholas Carlton showed that fear of the unknown is an evolutionary mechanism that has always been responsible for human survival.

Photo / Andrzej Kryszpiniuk / unsplash.com

The manifestation of fear of deep waters is, in fact, justified, since our ancestors understood that their survival depended on staying on land, not in water environment. This, in turn, has evolved into a fundamental fear passed down from generation to generation to ensure the survival of the human race. Thalassophobia is often explained as a primal fear, given that humans are land mammals and rely on their eyesight to forage for food: this is evolutionarily built into our lives, and the depths of the sea resist this environment.

Martin Anthony, professor of psychology at Ryerson University and co-author of The Anxiety Handbook, says it makes evolutionary sense that humans have developed a tendency to fear and avoid deep water due to everything related to these risks. It is also programmed by evolution to be afraid of some things like heights, deep water, and more.

Mythology and modern popular culture and genetic predisposition

Photo / Titanic / Paramount Pictures / 20th Century Fox / Lightstorm Entertainment

In Judeo-Christian beliefs, the sea or ocean is often depicted as a place of calamity and punishment. For example, in the story of Noah's ark. You can also say about the story of the exodus, when the army of the pharaoh overtook the Jews at the Red Sea and, by the will of God, the waters of the sea parted, and the Israelites went along the bottom, after which the waters closed, destroying the army of the Egyptians who tried to pursue them. Fear of the element of water can be traced in this episode.

In texts such as William Shakespeare's The Tempest, a shipwreck figured as the driving force of the story and gave the sea an otherworldly and evil personification. Sean Harrington and John Hackett, authors of Beasts of the Deep: Sea Creatures and Popular Culture, believe these narratives are the driving force behind the widespread fear of the oceans. Gothic and supernatural literature gravitates towards the sea as a fertile medium, and as a result creates an unpleasant and frightening image in the minds of viewers.

Photo / Jaws / Zanuck/Brown Company / Universal Pictures

This is also observed in contemporary popular culture. The 1975 blockbuster Jaws is often cited as the influential film that launched the modern thalassophobia movement. The mainstream media also influence the public's collective emotions. News of white sharks, electric eels, or other dangerous marine predators attacking people causes public fear and is thought to contribute to thalassophobia. Real cases of sinking of ships such as the Titanic, which received film adaptations, with a visual illustration of events, cause fear in the audience. People who are very afraid of violent death (including drowning) are also more likely to develop thalassophobia.

Photo / wtftime.ru

Such fear can also be associated with Cthulhu, a fictional space monster created by the American writer Howard Phillips Lovecraft, who first appears in the story "The Call of Cthulhu", published in the American magazine Weird Tales in 1928. In the works of Lovecraft and his followers, Cthulhu is the Great Old God among other Lovecraftian cosmic entities, the lord of the worlds, sleeping at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Cthulhu in different parts of the body is like an octopus, a dragon and a caricature of the human form, which is able to influence the human mind. Cthulhu is something completely unnatural for our world.

Photo / The Lord of the Rings / New Line Cinema

Fear of the unknown is also caused by the Water Guardian, a fictional creature from the legendarium of J. R. R. Tolkien; appears in the first book of The Lord of the Rings, lives in a lake under the western walls of Moria. The Guardian is a giant creature that resembles an octopus and a spider at the same time, with a huge mouth and sharp teeth.

Tsunamis can be another thing that feeds fear. For example, the attempts to conquer Japan by the Mongols, which took place twice, but both times the invasion failed due to natural phenomena. According to legend, the strongest typhoons that arose during the landing of the invaders on the Japanese islands and destroyed most of the ships were called "kamikaze" by Japanese historians.

Photo / Interstellar / Legendary Pictures / Syncopy

The ocean-covered planet Miller from Christopher Nolan's sci-fi film Interstellar can also serve as an echo of fears. A group of protagonists find a shipwreck on this planet, however, a giant tidal wave kills one of the crew members.

These cultural influences, both ancient and modern, are believed to have contributed to the fear of deep waters over the centuries.

Past traumatic experiences and genetic predisposition

Photo / Stormseeker / unsplash.com

A negative or traumatic past event can also cause a deep fear of the oceans. Traumatic experiences of fear while swimming or nearly drowning are also major causes of thalassophobia. In addition to this, watching adults who also experienced fear of deep water is thought to be a contributing factor to the development of thalassophobia later in life. Scientists also believe that genetics and biological heredity play an important role in the emergence of fear of the seas, oceans and lakes. Such genetic factors include the presence of a family member with thalassophobia, personal mental state. Personal experience and upbringing are all factors that can potentially be the cause of thalassophobia.

Symptoms and diagnosis of thalassophobia

Photo / Daniel Jensen / unsplash.com

Thalassophobia is characterized by certain physical and emotional traits manifested by a person. The reaction that people with thalassophobia show in relation to large bodies of water (beaches, oceans, lakes) does not correspond to the level of danger that water poses to them. Therefore, they illustrate abnormal behavior in situations or conditions that cause them fear. An anxiety-induced phobia, such as thalassophobia, manifests itself in the form of specific signs and symptoms.

General emotional symptoms of talassophobia include:

- constant anxiety
- problems with falling asleep (possibly insomnia)
- Panic and anxiety
- a feeling
- Feeling detached from the situation
- Depression

Common physical symptoms of thalassophobia include:

- shortness of breath
- sweat
- trembling at the sight of the sea
- unwillingness to be next to deep ponds
- nausea
9007 - dizziness

- incurred response

According to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is the American Psychiatric Association's guide to assessing and diagnosing mental disorders, thalassophobia can be diagnosed under the following circumstances:

- A person's fear of deep water must be constant, excessive and unreasonable
- A person must experience this fear every time he is in deep or open water
- The person either avoids open water or endures being in them with strong fear
– A person’s fear of large bodies of water interferes with his normal functioning
– A person’s fear has been present for at least six months

Researchers have concluded that the severity and prevalence of thalassophobia is constantly changing among different demographic groups, and many people may not be aware that they have mild thalassophobia.

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