What is Thalassophobia, the Fear of the Sea?

What is Thalassophobia?

Does the thought of going on a cruise ship scare the hell out of you? Do you shake all over every time you read a book based on the sea, such as Moby Dick or Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea? Did you rush out of the movie theater when watching Titanic? Do you dread the idea of flying from New York to London, as you’re petrified of passing over the Atlantic Ocean beneath?

Okay! You’ve got Thalassophobia, which is described as a fear of the sea or the ocean. The word Thalassophobia is an amalgamation of the Greek words “thallasa” which means the sea, and “phobos”, which means fear or dread.

It’s somewhat of a rare phobia, and not many people have it. It is certainly less dangerous than other phobias related to water such as hydrophobia – which is caused by rabies. When you have hydrophobia, you will resist taking water even if you’re dying of dehydration and thirst.

What Happens When You Have the Fear of the Sea, Thalassophobia?

There could be hereditary, psychological or other reasons for Thalassophobia. Cultural factors come into play as well, as certain cultures have a historical dread of the sea or the ocean. The Sicilians, for example, have historically resisted the urge to go on sea expeditions, because of the fear of the sea in their culture.

There are a lot of people feel nauseous and sick when they are on a ship and hundreds of miles from the nearest landmass. There is this scare or dread that overtakes them, and makes them tremble and shake out of fear.

Some people dread water sports such as scuba diving or snorkeling for this reason. They hate the idea of going to beaches, and refuse to swim in the ocean waters or to surf on the waves. They have this fear of being eaten alive by sharks the moment they venture into the ocean.

Signs of Thalassophobia

When you have Thalassophobia, you will first experience a certain paleness in the skin. You will start sweating profusely and develop allergic reactions such as redness or bright spots on the skin. You may experience weakness in the knees and feel your heartbeats getting faster.

You may feel nauseous, nervous and dizzy, and start vomiting. You may experience a severe headache. You will have visions of a dangerous aquatic animal attacking you and have nightmares of drowning in the sea. You may experience breathlessness and suffocation at the thought of getting into the sea water.

Psychological Impact of Thalassophobia, the Phobia of the Sea

Thalassophobia can lead to psychological problems and related complications. The person suffering from this phobia may develop clinical depression. They might feel anxious and stressed, and worried all the time. There could be a hidden fear within them, which makes them lose focus – they might find it hard to concentrate on work or studies. They may suffer from short term memory loss as well.

What’s the Treatment for Thalassophobia?

If you feel you are suffering from the ocean phobia, and it’s stopping you from acting normally, you must visit a psychiatrist immediately. You will be put through a series of tests and subjected to techniques such as hypnotherapy, NLP (or Neuro-linguistic programming) and Exposure therapy to get rid of the fear. You may be given sedatives to calm you down.