Thalassophobia: Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

A concise definition of the term is the fear of the oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, and other large bodies of water that people fear.

Thalassophobia is accurate; it is the fear of a large body of water. This fear has nothing to do with gender or age.

Thalassophobia is a Greek word “Thalassa,” which means fear of the oceans, and “Phobos,” which implies anxiety or fear.

A phobia is slightly different from fear since the former is intense and unjustified fear.

Thalassophobia needs to be approached from the angle of its effect on people, so perhaps we can add that thalassophobia is fear of the ocean or fear of deep dark water and its associated and often exhibited natural features.

Thalassophobia is a complex phobia, and in each individual, it is different.

While some may fear the vastness of the sea, others may fear the life that lives in it, while others may fear the distance from land, so all fears are different.


The terms aquaphobia and hydrophobia are sometimes used to describe thalassophobia. However, aquaphobia is the fear of bodies of water and floods. At the same time, hydrophobia develops in the advanced stages of the phobia and can make a person afraid of water, so much so that they refuse to drink fluids.

Causes of thalassophobia

Thalassophobia is a specific (or “isolated”) phobia focused on critical non-social factors. Among the causes, we can list the following:

  1. We often read news reports of great white sharks, electric eels, or other dangerous marine predators attacking swimmers in the ocean. We have also seen documentaries of giant squid thrown ashore or dragged by fishers. All of these sightings and reports can instill fear of the sea.
  2. Popular books like Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea have explored monstrous and mythical sea creatures. Similarly, Moby Dick and movies like Tiburon depict giant whales and sharks that are not only deadly but have evolved enough to think intelligently and attack humans.
  3. Similarly, actual ship cases, including the Titanic drowned in the vast ocean, have been rendered wildly realistic by their movie versions. People who are very afraid of violent death or particularly drowning are more likely to develop thalassophobia.
  4. A negative or traumatic event (experienced directly or indirectly) can also trigger a deep fear of the oceans. Sometimes parents or relatives unknowingly give data that can trigger Thalassophobia in children.
  5. Other relatively rare causes of fear of the sea are related to genetic disorders or diseases that involve the thyroid gland, as well as hormonal imbalances or adrenal insufficiencies.


Some cases of thalassophobia are so severe that the symptoms can interfere with the patient’s daily life. In other cases, they can manifest only when the person reaches the coast.

Some may not see images of the ocean, much fewer movies that involve them.

In general, fear or phobia of the ocean presents a variety of physical and emotional symptoms such as:

  • Tremors when seeing the ocean.
  • Excessive sweating
  • I am feeling so terrified that the constant images of a movie of death in large bodies of water play with the mind of the thalassophobic.
  • I was feeling detached from reality, feeling immobilized, or unable to express myself clearly.
  • Cry and run away from reality.
  • The need to flee from the source of terror.
  • Gastrointestinal problems, nausea, dry mouth.
  • Irrational fear of the sea.
  • Anxiety crisis or panic attacks.
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Short of breath.
  • Adoption of extreme evasion measures.

The symptoms of this phobia can be so severe that they interfere with daily life, while others can only be affected when they are near water.

Thalassophobia treatment

There are certain things that the patient can do to help them overcome this fear, the most common of which is to face it.

It is usual for people with phobias to want to avoid what they fear; however, doing this will never help you overcome it. Although preventing the dread can be helpful in the short term, it will prevent the patient from realizing that what they fear so much is not so scary.

The most effective way to overcome your fear of the sea is to expose yourself to it gradually and in a safe and controlled manner.

By repeating this regularly, eventually, the patient will realize that in the worst case, nothing wrong is going to happen.

If the thalassophobia continues after trying to overcome the fear on the patient’s behalf, you can always turn to professionals.

Hypnotherapy is a prevalent form of therapy to help people overcome their phobias.

Hypnotherapy can change negative emotional thoughts, affect attitudes and behavior, and help people overcome phobias affecting their daily lives.

Hypnotherapy teaches the patient to change different thoughts and feelings from their phobia. Before therapy, the sea will conjure up feelings of terror and the need to escape the cause of fear.

Hypnotherapy can provoke positive thoughts of fear. However, not everyone with thalassophobia will benefit from hypnotherapy, as many factors affect the effectiveness of this form of therapy.

Personality and willingness to change play an essential role in your success. If hypnotherapy is not successful, there is also another method.

Neuro-linguistic programming therapy can also be used to overcome thalassophobia. This therapy is our understanding of how the mind creates reality.

Neurolinguistic therapy is an option. So if we are using the wrong words, we can create an underlying problem.

In the case of thalassophobia, the phobic words and perceptions of the sea are inaccurate. Therefore, a fear develops. A neurolinguistic therapist will analyze every word you say about the ocean during a session.

They will examine the patient’s body language as he talks about it and help him understand the root cause of the phobia. The therapist will help you change your thoughts and preconceptions.

Your mind will be reprogrammed, and if the therapy is successful, you will no longer be afraid of the ocean. Like hypnotherapy, multiple sessions will be needed to get the best results.

In conclusion, if you have thalassophobia, you don’t have to live with it. Although it may seem wise to avoid the sea altogether, in the long run, this will not help as fear will never be overcome.

Several things can be done to overcome thalassophobia, from dealing with fear to enlisting the help of a professional for therapy sessions.

But it is essential to do something, especially if the phobia is severe and affects the patient’s daily life.