Thalassophobia: All The Signs And Symptoms

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Phobias are mental health conditions that cause significant feelings of worry, anxiety, and fear linked to a specific trigger. There are different phobias and one such is Thalassophobia. Phobias can have a significant impact on a person’s life.

Meaning of Thalassophobia:

Thalassophobia is pronounced as tha-las-so-pho-bia. It is a real phobia which is the fear of deep bodies of water. Don’t confuse it thalassophobia with aquaphobia, which is fear of water itself. On the surface, thalassophobia appears to be a fear of water, but the situation is more complex. This condition does not cause people to be scared of all water in all settings, therefore taking a shower or having a drink on a hot day will not cause anxiety. Rather than having their anxiety triggered by water in all settings, people with thalassophobia are afraid of large, deep bodies of water. For persons with thalassophobia, the ocean is the best example of a fear-inducing water body, but deep lakes, large ponds and, rapid rivers can also be some more examples which cause fear in a person affected with thalassophobia.

A thalassophobic person might not go for swimming in a pool, or this phobia may stop people from visiting a beach. The person with thalassophobia may fear that they will drown, regardless of their swimming skills, or that they will be attacked by a shark, or any other aquatic animal despite the fact that the danger is low. Some also fear the emptiness of the sea. In any given year, approximately 7–9% of people in the United States have a specific phobia, according to professional diagnostic criteria. However, there are no figures as to how many people suffer with thalassophobia​1​.

Signs and Symptoms of Thalassophobia:

Man in a boat, empty sea.

Phobias should never be underestimated, because all phobias can hinder a person’s everyday activities to some extent and are, in some situations, the fundamental cause of anxiety and then later depression. People who suffer from phobias frequently avoid coming into contact with whatever it is that causes them to feel fearful or anxious. For the most majority of their days, a person with thalassophobia will show no visible signs of the condition. In some cases, even their friends and family members are unaware that their loved one is suffering from a mental condition. But if a person’s fear of deep sea or oceans is strong enough, thalassophobia stops them from even watching shows or movies about the subject. Images of people drowning, being shipwrecked, or coming face to face with a sea animal may cause anxiety, and person suffering doesn’t need to be present in the situation physically, his brain can do the thing.

People are unique, as are the various types of phobias that might affect them. As a result, the symptoms vary greatly depending on how severe an individual’s fears are. Specific phobias, such as Thalassophobia, fall under the category of anxiety disorders in general. Therefore, a person can experience either one or all the symptoms mentioned below. The anxiety caused on by thalassophobia triggers the body’s “fight, flight, or freeze” response, which is the body’s way of preparing for danger​2​. Sweating, increased breathing, and a raised heart rate are some of the physical signs. In certain extreme cases, a person suffering from thalassophobia may experience a panic attack when exposed to its triggers, such as the sea, sea travel, being in large bodies of water, fear of the vast emptiness of the sea, fear of sea waves, and fear of being separated from land, which may cause​1​:

  • trembling or shaking
  • sweating
  • the feeling of choking
  • lightheadedness
  • rapid breathing, or hyperventilation
  • heart palpitations
  • nausea, with or without vomiting
  • headaches and dizziness
  • feeling faint
  • numbness or pins and needles
  • dry mouth
  • feeling disconnected
  • confusion, difficulty concentrating
  • tightness in the chest/chest pain and difficulty breathing


  1. 1.
    Zoppi L. Causes and treatments for thalassophobia. medicalnewstoday. Published 2020. Accessed 2021.
  2. 2.
    Patterson E. Thalassophobia: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatments. choosingtherapy. Published 2020. Accessed 2021.

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