Are you completely incapable of bathing in deep water? Do you feel great anguish just at the thought of putting your feet in a deep well? Although these reactions are usually completely normal in most cases, they perfectly describe how a person with bathophobia feels.

Throughout this article we will talk about this anxiety disorder known as bathophobia . We will describe its symptoms, its causes and which are the techniques and professional interventions to treat it.

What is bathophobia?

Like other phobias, bathophobia is an anxiety disorder in which the person experiences an intense terror of the depths or of those situations in which he cannot see the lower part of his body because of depth or darkness.

Those spaces or situations in which the person may experience this fear can be swimming pools, the sea, the bottom of a well, etc. That is, spaces that transmit a feeling of depth .

It is necessary to specify that the fear or dread of deep spaces is completely habitual, natural and fulfills an adaptive function. Therefore, a person who suffers from this type of restlessness does not always have to suffer from a phobia. However, in cases where the person experiences an incapacitating anxiety, which he cannot control and which has no rational basis ; it would be considered as bathophobia.

What are the symptoms of bataphobia?

As discussed above, bathophobia is classified among the anxiety disorders, so exposure to the situation or phobic stimulus will trigger an extreme anxiety response .

Like the rest of phobias, the symptoms are divided into three groups: physical symptoms, cognitive symptoms and behavioral symptoms. However, although most people experience the same symptoms, this phobia presents a great variability among people.

Among the main symptoms are the following.

Physical symptoms

  • Heart rate acceleration .
  • Increased breathing rate.
  • Hyperhidrosis.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Elevated muscle tone.
  • Nausea and vomiting .
  • Stomachache.
  • Chills.
  • Choking sensation .

Cognitive symptoms

  • Catastrophic thoughts.
  • Feeling of lack of control .

Behavioral symptoms

  • Exhausting behaviour.
  • Avoidance behaviour.

Usually, symptoms subside once the phobic stimulus has disappeared. However, this will depend on the intensity with which the person lives experiences bathophobia , since in some cases the level of anxiety increases only when thinking about these places of great depth.

What causes bathophobia?

There is no completely reliable way to determine the origin of a phobia. In most cases, a genetic predisposition linked to a traumatic or emotionally charged experience ends up causing a phobia of some of the elements involved in the experience.

For example, a person who has lived through a shipwreck or a traumatic experience somewhere deep inside is susceptible to developing a bataphobia. However, this does not always have to be the case, as there are many factors, such as personality or even environment, that facilitate the emergence of bataphobia.

How is this phobia diagnosed?

In most cases, bathophobia remains undiagnosed, since people who suffer from it do not usually encounter these situations, so the phobia does not interfere too much with their daily lives.

However, in cases where the person suffering from photophobia does have to deal with these situations, an appropriate assessment that meets the established diagnostic criteria is necessary.

Given the large number of phobias that currently exist, it has not been possible to establish a specific diagnostic protocol for each of them. However, there is a series of common diagnostic criteria in all these specific anxiety disorders .

When the practitioner is preparing to evaluate the patient, the following aspects of the diagnosis should be considered:

  • Feeling of fear and immediate anxiety response to the appearance of the phobic stimulus. In this case the depths.
  • The person engages in avoidance or escape behaviors when faced with the stimulus or feared situation.
  • Experiencing fear is seen as disproportionate to the actual danger.
  • The fear appears for more than six months each time the person is exposed.
  • The symptoms and consequences of these generate clinically significant discomfort.
  • The phobia and its symptoms interfere with the patient’s life.
  • The symptoms cannot be better explained by any other mental illness or disorder.

Is there a treatment?

With proper diagnosis and treatment, both bathophobia and any other type of anxiety disorder can go into almost complete remission.

Usually, the treatment of choice to help people with this type of disorder is based on intervention through psychotherapy, always by a professional psychologist .

Within these psychotherapies, the cognitive-behavioral treatment is the one that has stood out for being more effective and quicker to remit symptoms. However, there are a large number of interventions and therapies that, carried out correctly and always by an expert , can also offer satisfactory results.

Within the treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy the following actions can be carried out.

1. Live exhibition

Avoidance by people with batephobia, or any type of anxiety disorder, is the primary reason why it is maintained over time. Therefore, by means of live exposure confronts the patient with the feared situation or the phobic stimulus.

However, it is necessary that this exposure is always conducted by a professional.

2. Systematic desensitization

When the anxiety response is so extreme that no live exposure can be made, an intervention by systematic desensitization will be performed. With this technique the patient is gradually exposed to the phobic stimulus .

3. Relaxation techniques

It is essential that both the intervention through live exposure and systematic desensitization are accompanied by training in relaxation techniques that decrease the patient’s state of alertness and facilitate his or her approach to the feared stimulus.

4. Cognitive therapy

Since an essential component of phobias are the distorted thoughts that exist about the phobic stimulus, it is essential to use cognitive therapy to help eliminate them .