Fear of deep water: Causes and How to Overcome

September 20, 2021

How to overcome the fear of swimming in deep water? Many people ask this question because bathophobia does not allow them to swim. It is a panicky feeling when a person senses a "water abyss", an infinite space that absorbs him. Psychologists believe that this phobia is one of the manifestations of the fear of death since we are not scared of deep water, we are scared of drowning. This fear itself is extremely dangerous since panic attacks lead to control losing, and drowning.

The majority believe that it is enough just to learn to swim, and the phobia will pass by itself. But this is not true. It is just a simplification of the problem — a phobic fear of the abyss can also torment excellent natural swimmers. It is worth understanding what exactly scares a person in depth.

Why does fear of the deep arise?

Bathophobia is often divided into objective and destructive. Objective Bathophobia- the fear of swimming to the depth, because you are not a good swimmer and are afraid of drowning. Or it may be related to the fact that a person once almost drowned, or he himself witnessed a tragic case. So, a person is afraid of some real danger — to drown, or get under the blades of a ship, or get bitten by a shark. Often a phobia occurs completely out of nowhere like a random thought. In such cases, excessive anxiety is to blame, which may be innate.

But there is another fear of depth — it is called destructive. It includes fears caused by irrational thoughts — terrible monsters are hiding in the depths, which are just waiting for the moment to attack and mercilessly tear their victim. Some phobia makes people hear the voices of mermaids and sea creatures, and for some, the ocean seems to be a thinking creature that is negatively disposed towards humanity.

There is a small variety of phobia of depth. There is a fear of deep reservoirs. It is very similar to bathophobia, but it is still a narrower type. It does not extend to the depth itself but to lakes, rivers, and swamps, which in themselves frighten a person.


Physical symptoms that indicate the state include: 

  • Increased heartbeat;
  • Dry mouth;
  • Tremor, trembling;
  • Feeling of asthmatic suffocation and difficulty in breathing;
  • Nausea, vomiting;
  • Feeling of dizziness;
  • Fear of madness, fear of losing control over yourself;
  • The feeling that objects and actions are unreal;
  • The feeling of unreality regarding "I";
  • Numbness and tingling;
  • Hot flashes and chills;
  • Fear of dying;
  • The fear of bumping into the corpse of a drowned man.

The phobia of depth is manifested in the fact that a person prefers either not to swim at all, or not to swim further than a few meters from the shore. If friends decide to play a joke, dragging the bathophobe to the depth, he may have a tantrum or even faint from shock. You can not give in to this fear, because the condition can become even worse — for example, there will be a fear of water.

How to get over a fear of deep water?

If the fear of depth is caused by the inability to swim, you need to urgently start mastering this useful skill, and you can start training in the children's pool for overcoming fear of drowning, and the presence of a loved one nearby will only benefit.

If bathophobia arose because of the fear of monsters hiding in the sea, then it is worth reducing the threat level in the world around. Stop watching horror films, and try to understand why are you so sensitive to such a threat. It is worth explaining that it is absolutely far from reality. But the main thing is not to laugh and not to mock, because, for someone who is afraid, any fear is absolutely real. For a person to overcome fear, he needs support and understanding.

Hugs and smiles of parents while bathing in the shower, in the bath, or the river or lake will be very effective for children. For adults, physical contact can also be beneficial.

To overcome fear on your own, you need to start the practice of diving into the water with your head, which is a very difficult test for a person suffering from bathophobia. You need to learn how to breathe evenly, hold your breath correctly, open your eyes, look at the bottom-fish and algae. A great option is to dive with fins and a mask. And if you are afraid about not feeling the bottom, you can lie back on the water and relax.

How to overcome the fear of water and swimming

The fear of depth and swimming is quite difficult to overcome. Irrationality and obsessive thoughts in connection with the depth prevent a person from behaving adequately on the water.

The general scheme of working out bathophobia can look like this:

1. It is necessary to achieve a better understanding of the water element, its features:

  • broadcasts about the benefits of water, its characteristics, and its use;
  • reports on water sports and competitions: a striking example is rowing — people are completely safe in a boat even on a very deep reservoir;
  •  practice in rowing classes will be a very good step towards overcoming the fear of depth.

2. Formation of a positive image. 

Frequent thoughts about the water, its beautiful surface, revision of landscapes with reservoirs and beaches, should gradually create an internal positive attitude to everything related to it– including a calm perception of depth:

How to get over your fear of deep water? With humor, of course.

  • the method of paradoxical intention will be effective: in practice, it looks like uttering contradictory formulations (with humor, self-irony): a person rides a bus on a bridge over a deep reservoir and says to himself " I will fall together with the bus into this river, there will be splashes-as high as a 5-storey building!".
  • directly being in the water at a depth, it is necessary to use the method of paradoxical resolution, the wording here changes: instead of the frightening thought that the water will take (absorb) a person, it is pronounced " Depth, I will not absorb you! — the utterance of such or similar phrases smoothes panic reactions.

We hope that we answered your question on how to get over the fear of swimming in deep water. Once you start feeling safe, swimming will become your favorite pastime. Don't let fear take away your happiness.

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