05-01-2007, 07:02 PM (This post was last modified: 07-07-2011 05:28 AM by Snooks.)
Aquaphobia is a kind of specific phobia, an abnormal and persistent fear of water. It involves a level of fear that is beyond control or that may interfere with daily life. Specifically, people suffering from aquaphobia may experience anxiety even though they realize the water in an ocean, a river, a lake, a creek or even a bathtub may pose no imminent threat. They may avoid such activities as boating and swimming, or they may avoid swimming in the deep ocean despite having mastered basic swimming skills. At home, they may even be afraid to take baths or showers.
Medical professionals indicate that aquaphobia may manifest itself in a person through their specific experiences or due to biological factors. Some people may develop the phobia as a reaction to a traumatic water experience---a near drowning or other such event. Others may have simply failed to have acquired experience in the water through casual events like swimming or boating events due to cultural factors. Other individuals may suffer from an "instinctive reaction" to the water which arises separate from any observable factors. They have a gut reaction that limits their fundamental comfort level in any sort of casual water activities, such as swimming. Other sufferers may experience discomfort around the water without falling into any of the previous three categories.
Traumatic water experience
For most people, their unreasonable fear of water may be traced back to a past experience of near drowning, being unceremoniously pushed into a pool, or falling out of a boat. Others may have gotten aquaphobia from watching a scary movie like Jaws or a documentary on sharks, piranhas, jellyfish, and other dangerous creatures of the ocean. Some people may have lost a loved one to drowning or a shipwreck and have developed aquaphobia as a result. Aquaphobia may also be caused by unfamiliarity with bodies of water. Some who have no previous experiences with swimming, boating, or being near bodies of water may feel mild or severe unease in trying out water activities.
When near bodies of water, people who suffer from aquaphobia generally feel anxious and uneasy. Their heart rate would increase, they'd sweat excessively, tremble, and feel dizzy. They may also feel short of breath and others would cry or even get hysterical.
Aquaphobia is different from hydrophobia. The latter is usually manifested in the late stages of rabies, wherein patients find it difficult to swallow, show irrational fear when they see a glass of water or any other liquid, and are not able to satisfy their thirst.
If you are a mild aquaphobic, to help overcome your fear of water you need to learn the following skills:
1 to breathe out into water without stiffening your neck
2 to float by allowing the water to support your head
3 to regain your feet or 'land', from floating or gliding, in a balanced, coordinated and unhurried way.
Most people with a fear of water can be split into two groups:
Group 1 - those who have had a traumatic experience of near drowning.
Group 2 - virtually all are aware of balance or coordination problems, even before trying to learn to swim.
Some common characteristics of fear of the water are:
Panic at the thought of being in water.
Tensing muscles and a feeling of insecurity.
Loosing balance when in the water.
Panic swimming focused only on getting to the
other side of the pool.
Holding your breath while swimming.
Swimming with your head out of water.
Becoming anxious if another swimmer is close by.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is currently one of the offered treatments for aquaphobia. This technique entails presenting one's fears as hypotheses that can be tested out to prove if they are realistic or not. It enables the person to play a more active role and gain control of his fears. In neuro-linguistic programming, another treatment for aquaphobia, the fear is viewed as a mental construct which can be revised or reprogrammed to yield a more favorable and beneficial result.
Another treatment for severe aquaphobia is hypnotherapy or the use of hypnosis. In this technique, a therapist digs though the subconscious to unearth the cause of the fear. Then, with the use of hypnotic suggestion, the mind is encouraged to view these things as nonthreatening. Other treatments make use of the virtual reality technique complimented by the cognitive-behavioral therapy to cure aquaphobia.
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