The term 'aquaphobia' refers to the abnormal and persistent fear of water. It is derived from the Latin word aqua (water) and the Greek word phobos (fear). Those who are aquaphobic, avoid any activity that might require them to be near water. The fear heightens in situations where they might have to swim. For this reason, they avoid traveling by boats and ships. The fear of drowning causes them to distance themselves. This fear is present even when there is no immediate threat to their life and limb by water. Getting splashed by water suddenly may also cause these people to get hysterical.
There are no specific causes of aquaphobia. This fear may arise due to an early childhood memory related to water. It's possible that these people nearly drowned or saw someone drown in their childhood. The lack of self-confidence that one can swim and remain afloat, may give rise to fear of drowning.
The intensity of symptoms would vary from person to person. Some people develop such an intense phobia towards water that they might often dream of getting drowned. They refuse to swim, and start panicking if others try to convince them to. Some may not be able to bear the sight of water, and avoid any situation where water might be involved. Some of the symptoms of aquaphobia include breathlessness, excessive sweating, dry mouth, tremors, high heart rate, inability to talk or think clearly, fear of death by drowning, a full-fledged anxiety attack, insane behavior like screaming and throwing hands around, etc. Hydrophobia could also occur in some people affected by rabies. The affected people experience painful spasms in their throat muscles, which makes it very difficult for them to drink water. This might cause aversion to water.
How to Overcome the Fear
Psychotherapy sessions might prove beneficial for people affected by aquaphobia. Talking about your fears to a therapist might help. Affected people should take small steps to overcome this phobia. Start by taking a walk along the pool or beach. Gradually, try to get your feet wet. Take classes from an experienced swimming instructor, and tell yourself that you will stay afloat and not drown. Adopt all strategies advised by the psychologist, as well as your instructor to overcome this fear.
Learn to face your fear. Do not allow it to grow on you and take over your life. Seek help and speak to your family and friends about your fear of water. Gradually, with time you will be able to overcome your fears.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.