What Is Thalassophobia? You Probably Have This Surprisingly Common Fear

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If large bodies of deep water freak you out more than they entice you, you might want to ask yourself what Thalassophobia is, and whether you have it. The term comes from the Greek word "thalassa" which means sea or ocean, and "phobos" which means fear. Together they describe the overwhelming fear of bodies of water that many people suffer from. Sure, no one's particularly excited to hop into deep waters having no idea what's beneath them, and likely anyone who's swimming in a murky lake or wild ocean will worry about the wildlife they might interact with. It'd definitely normal to feel a noticeable surge of concern anytime you're anywhere unfamiliar — i.e. hovering over the ocean floor.

But this particular phobia causes a much more debilitating fear — it's not about being nervous for people with this phobia. People who suffer from Thalassophobia are so scared of the water, that they'll probably avoid it all together. It's more than just getting the heebie jeebies for a minute when you first jump it, it's an all-encompassing feeling of dread that doesn't leave any room for enjoyment. The water is not your friend when you have Thalassophobia, it's an incredibly stressful place that does not make you feel comfortable. Sometimes even looking at pictures of deep waters can cause people with this phobia to freak the hell out.

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While all fears are essentially subjective, some are easier to comprehend that others. The fear of snakes is a lot easier to understand than the fear of puppies, right? Snakes can be dangerous, while puppies typically are just cuddly. And while the fear of large bodies of water might sound dramatic, it's not entirely unwarranted. While we're mostly safe when we're out on the water, there's a lot that can go wrong. Large bodies of water come with intense conditions, and many large and powerful or dangerous animals. Meaning, the fear doesn't come from nowhere.

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It's good to have a healthy dose of fear when you're out on the water. But, if you let your Thalassophobia rule your life, you won't ever get to experience everything that the deep sea has to offer. Everyone should get to experience the joy of swimming in the ocean, boating on a lake, or even treading in the deep end, which is why all sorts of new age therapies and alternative healing solutions have tried to tackle Thalassophobia.

With success, people have tried hypnotherapy, which challenges patients to find where the emotional trigger of fear is located, and rewire it. Other successes have been had with traditional therapy, which can help patients find the tools to manage their emotional responses to fears and work to get over their fear and eventually enjoy the ocean, phobia-free.