When you're drowning in workloads, deadlines, relationship stresses — whatever else — the last thing you want is to spend your sleep dreaming that you are legit drowning. Even if it's not real, anyone who's had the misfortune of drowning in a dream will know it's a pretty horrific experience. The feeling of fear is incredibly real, then you wake up panting and have your day ruined by the lingering feelings from the dream before. If this is happening regularly to you, you'll probably want to know — what does it mean when I drown in a dream?
Overall though, dream expert Cynthia Richmond writes in her book Dream Power: How to Use Your Night Dreams to Change Your Life, that "fear of drowning in the language of dreams is a fear of getting too involved in feelings, a fear of losing one's self." I get that there are certain variants to this. One night you could be drowning in the ocean — which Richmond writes is "symbolic of our emotions and of the unconscious mind" — the next it's a vat of jelly. Depending on where you are and what you drown in, the meanings will probably be different.
The psychology section on Knoji gives explanations for several different scenarios, including dreaming that you're in an ocean, "suddenly being swept under a wave or tide." For this, they say "this would indicate that the dreamer has been hit by a sudden situation in life that is difficult to process or emotionally handle." Whereas, "If the wave throws the dreamer into the rocks or runs them aground, this can represent deliberate intent from others to 'bash' him with hurtful words or actions and they are left in an emotional undertow by it."
But if you downgrade one night from ocean to pool, then that could slightly alter the meaning of your dream, the site says. Since a pool is manmade, its significance in dreams is different to a natural body of water, and might indicate that there might be some superficially good things going on in your life, that may not be quite so pretty in reality. Whereas, if you dream that you're drowning in a tsunami, the site says it could be a sign of unresolved fears or trauma.
What all of these drowning dreams seem to suggest is that there might be some ongoing stress going on in your life. "Because of the water, drowning depicts fear of being overwhelmed by difficult emotions or anxieties," Dream Hawk writes in their dream dictionary. But even if you don't have anything super stressful on your plate right now, drowning dreams still happen. "Drowning in a dream is also about struggling to survive as a person, so it applies to your identity as it is dealing with relationship with other people, but also with your own internal world of instincts, body activities and needs," Dream Hawk explains.
However, if in your dream you survive the drowning, it might correspond to an "emotional rebirth" you may be having in your life, according to Dream Moods. This is backed up by Auntyflo, who report that "The immersion in water can represent a rebirth, much like the fact we are back in our mother's womb which is an archetypical symbol in dream psychology." "If you survive the drowning, then it means that a waking relationship or situation will ultimately survive the turmoil," Dream Moods continues. Either way, the drowning indicates that you may be going through some heavy stuff right now — internally or externally — and I hope you sleep well soon.