Bathophobia: (fear of depth): symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment

Are you completely unable to swim in deep water? Do you feel great anguish at the thought of putting your feet in a deep well? While these reactions are generally quite normal in most cases, they are a perfect description of how a person with bathophobia feels.

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

    What is bathophobia?

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

    The spaces or situations in which the person may experience this fear may be swimming pools, the sea, the bottom of a well, etc. In other words, that is to say spaces that give an impression of depth.

    It should be noted that fear or fear in distant spaces is quite habitual, natural and fulfills an adaptive function. So, a person suffering from this type of agitation does not always have to suffer from a phobia. However, in cases where the person experiences incapacitating anxiety, which he cannot control and which has no rational basis; if that would be considered batophobia.

      What are the symptoms of bathophobia?

      As stated above, bathophobia is classified as an anxiety disorder, therefore exposure to the phobic situation or stimulus will trigger an extreme anxiety response.

      Like other phobias, the symptoms are divided into three sets: physical symptoms, cognitive symptoms, and behavioral symptoms. However, although most people experience the same symptoms, this phobia shows great variability between people.

      The main symptoms include those which we will see below.

      physical symptoms

      • Increased heart rate.
      • Increased respiratory rate.
      • Hyperhidrosis.
      • Arterial hypertension.
      • High muscle tone.
      • Nausea and vomiting.
      • An upset stomach.
      • Thrill.
      • Feeling of suffocation.

      cognitive symptoms

      • Catastrophic thoughts.
      • Feeling out of control.

      behavioral symptoms

      • Exhaust pipes.
      • Avoidance behaviors.

      Symptoms usually go away once the phobic stimulus is gone. however, it will depend on the intensity with which the living person experiences bathophobiaAs in some cases, the level of anxiety only increases when thinking about those very deep places.

      What causes bathophobia?

      There is no completely reliable way to determine the origin of a phobia. In most of the cases, a genetic predisposition coupled with a traumatic experience or a high emotional load it ends up causing a phobia of some of the elements surrounding the experience.

      For example, a person who has had a shipwreck or a traumatic experience somewhere deep down, is likely to develop bathophobia. However, it does not always have to be so, as there are many factors such as personality or even environment, which facilitate the emergence of this.

      How is this phobia diagnosed?

      In most cases, bathophobia goes undiagnosed, as people who suffer from it usually do not experience these situations, so the phobia does not interfere too much with their daily life.

      However, in cases where the person suffering from photophobia has to deal with these situations, an appropriate assessment should be made that meets the established diagnostic criteria.

      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 are a number of diagnostic criteria common to all of these specific anxiety disorders.

      When preparing to assess the patient, the professional should consider the following aspects of the diagnosis:

      • Feeling of fear and immediate anxiety reaction to the appearance of a phobic stimulus. In this case, the depths.
      • The person adopts avoidance or evasion behaviors when confronted with the stimulus or the feared situation.
      • The experience of fear is deemed disproportionate given the real danger.
      • Fear appears for more than six months each time the person is exposed.
      • The symptoms and consequences thereof generate clinically significant discomfort.
      • The phobia and its symptoms interfere with the life of the patient.
      • The symptoms cannot be better explained by any other illness or mental disorder.

      Is there a treatment?

      With proper diagnosis and treatment, bathophobia and any other type of anxiety disorder can go away almost completely.

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

      Within these psychotherapies, cognitive-behavioral treatment is what stands out for its greater effectiveness and rapidity in the remission of symptoms. However, there are many interventions and therapies which, carried out correctly and always by the hand of an expert, May also provide satisfactory results.

      The following actions can be performed as part of treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy.

      1. Live exhibition

      Avoidance of people with bathophobia or any type of anxiety disorder is the number one reason it persists over time. Therefore, through live exposure, the patient is confronted with the feared situation or to the phobic stimulus.

      However, it is necessary that this exhibition is always animated by a professional.

        2. Systematic desensitization

        When the anxiety response is so extreme that a live exposure cannot be achieved, an intervention will be performed by systematic desensitization. With this technique which the patient is gradually exposed to the phobic stimulus.

        3. Relaxation techniques

        It is essential that the live exposure intervention and systematic desensitization be accompanied training in relaxation techniques which decreases the patient’s vigilance and facilitate their approach to the feared stimulus.

          4. Cognitive therapy

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

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