According to the National Institute of Mental Health, phobias are the most common mental disorder in the United States. About 10% of sufferers experience extreme anxiety or are afraid of certain things like depths.
What is bathophobia?
Ever get chills from standing at the end of a flight of stairs or a diving board? Bathophobia is the fear of anything with depth. A lot of people confuse this fear with the fear of heights which it isn’t. There are also some who mistakenly think that bathophobia is the fear of taking a bath. It isn’t irrational to be nervous when you’re standing at the edge of a tall cliff. It makes sense because the fall could seriously injure you. However, when you’re extremely afraid of swimming pools, oceans, caves, dark tunnels, or stairs, you may have bathophobia. Bathophobia can also be accompanied by achluphobia (fear of the dark), ligyrophobia (fear of loud sounds), and acrophobia (fear of heights) since there is a similarity among these elements. Try to think of situations where you encountered certain depths to see where you stand with bathophobia. It’s a tricky phobia to understand but we’ll break it down in this article.
When you have bathophobia, you’re afraid you’ll be consumed by anything that has depth such as a dark hallway, sand, or a pool. This phobia may be caused by traumatic past experiences with depths such as drowning, getting lost in a dark alley or tunnel, and falling down from considerable heights. The precise cause is unknown and sometimes never emerges even during therapy.
Certain medical conditions can also cause bathophobia, for instance, diabetes, heart conditions, thyroid illnesses, and dealing with daily environmental stress. All of these conditions can lead to traumatic experiences that arouse bathophobia and aggravate its symptoms.
What Is Bathophobia Like?
People who suffer from bathophobia will avoid all situations that put them face-to-face with depth. They won’t take back alleys. They dislike swimming and all bodies of water such as lakes, pools, the sea, etc. They also have a hard time climbing up or down structures with depth like staircases and tunnels. Having this phobia can make life very unpleasant because there’s rarely a day when the average person doesn’t encounter something with depth. Sufferers of bathophobia can experience panic and anxiety simply by looking at images with depths or hearing descriptions of them. Seeing or hearing these things can remind them of a terrible experience they had in the past that involved deep places and trigger anxiety-related symptoms. If a phobia ever reaches this level, it is crucial to get treatment.
Symptoms of Bathophobia
Diagnosing bathophobia isn’t as simple as seeing if someone is afraid of stairs or trembles while on a diving board. There has to be a consistent pattern between panic and being confronted with the concept of depth before someone is diagnosed with it. Phobias are complex and don’t always manifest in the same way among different people. A person with bathophobia may be comfortable with swimming but experience nagging anxiety around stairs while another person with bathophobia may be comfortable with both but cannot stand tunnels. Because fear is linked to memory, the type of depth someone ends up fearing will vary from person to person based on their life experiences.
These are some of the symptoms people with bathophobia generally experience:
● Trembling and palpitations
● Shortness of breath
● Chest pain
● Severe physical discomfort
● Hot or cold flashes
● Nausea and stomach distress
● Obsessive thoughts about places with depth
● Feeling detached or losing control over thoughts when confronted with depths
How Do You Deal With Bathophobia?
Most people with bathophobia self-diagnose. They do so by thinking about the extent to which their fear is preventing them from functioning on a day-to-day basis. If the fear intensifies, becomes persistent, and frequently appears when no one else in a similar situation feels the same way, you can diagnose yourself as bathophobic. The first step to dealing with it is to admit that you have a problem. Remember, there’s no shame in having a phobia. It’s part and parcel of human nature to fear specific things based on our unique experiences. The next step is to approach someone you trust so you can talk about it. You can also seek counsel from a medical professional. If the medical professional can’t help, at the very least he or she will point you in the direction of someone who may help. Never be afraid or ashamed to seek help. There are generally two ways you can deal with bathophobia: one is to use self-help treatments and the second is by getting professional help.
Self-Help: What Are the Options?
There are a number of reasons for opting for self-help: perhaps you don’t have the resources for professional help, you may not have access to a therapist with experience in treating bathophobia, or perhaps you haven’t yet come to terms with what you’re experiencing and aren’t confident enough to come forward for help. Whatever the cause, here are tried and tested methods that have helped people overcome phobias:
Consider Lifestyle Changes To Reduce General Stress Levels
Stress can aggravate the symptoms of phobia. It may be a lack of sleep, overburdening yourself with work, or arguing too much with your friends or parents. Reducing stress can have a significant impact on your anxiety level. Encountering a place with depth while your anxiety levels are high will only worsen an already bad situation.
Attend a Self-Help Group
Many people in the United States and around the world suffer from phobias. You’re not alone. A self-help group can engender a feeling of solidarity, help you realize that other people are going through similar fears, and provide you with ways to deal with your phobia.
Exercise releases endorphins that help you feel calmer and relaxed. It also provides you with an outlet for any pent-up anxiety.
Practice Meditation, Yoga, Reiki
These relaxation techniques have been practiced for thousands of years and are known to greatly reduce stress. Meditation, yoga, and Reiki have many other benefits but their ability to divert one’s focus and relax people are the chief benefits for anxiety sufferers.
Try exposing yourself to the things you fear at your own pace. You don’t have to start big. Aim for small milestones. Over time, exposure therapy will desensitize you towards things you fear.
Professional Bathophobia Treatment
Professional treatment for phobias usually includes exposure therapy, talking about your past, your day-to-day experiences, and your emotions. In extreme cases, it can involve medication. The type and dosage will depend on a number of factors that only a licensed professional is qualified to assess. Talking to a professional who has an understanding of how the human brain works will help you jointly identify the root of your phobia and what to do next. However, exposure therapy or desensitization has often proven to be the most effective method for overcoming phobias. The act of engaging in open conversation with a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist can help determine whether or not your fear can be addressed at the root. If not, medical professionals can provide further treatment like medication or exposure therapy.
Coping With Bathophobia in the Long-Term
Sadly, not all fears go away completely, but there are ways to minimize and manage them. Your phobia doesn’t mean you won’t have a fulfilling life. The first and most important thing to remember is to never give up on trying to overcome your phobia. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from others. Try to meet or get in touch with people who have had similar experiences. If you can, speak to those who successfully overcame bathophobia or other phobias. Be open to the idea that the solution can come from anywhere; you just have to keep looking.
Final Thoughts: Multiple Treatments for Bathophobia
Places in nature, shapes, lights, or colors with depth can trigger bathophobia. It’s a tough phobia to diagnose and live with but there are multiple treatment options and things you can do to overcome it.