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Rabies Virus.jpg
Aquaphobia is a symptom of Rabies
SymptomsAversion to water

Aquaphobia (from Latin aqua 'water', and Ancient Greek φόβος (phóbos) 'fear') is an irrational fear of water.[1]

Aquaphobia is considered a specific phobia of natural environment type in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.[2] A specific phobia is an intense fear of something that poses little or no actual danger.[3]


The correct Greek-derived term for "water-fear" is hydrophobia, from ὕδωρ (hudōr), "water"[4] and φόβος (phobos), "fear".[5] However, this word has long been used in English to refer specifically to a symptom of later-stage rabies, which manifests itself in humans as difficulty in swallowing, fear when presented with liquids to drink, and an inability to quench one's thirst. Fear or aversion to water in general is referred to as aquaphobia.[6]


A study of epidemiological data from 22 low, lower-middle, upper-middle and high-income countries revealed "fear of still water or weather events" had a prevalence of 2.3%, across all countries; in the US the prevalence was 4.3%.[7] In an article on anxiety disorders, Lindal and Stefansson suggest that aquaphobia may affect as many as 1.8% of the general Icelandic population, or almost one in fifty people.[8] In America, 46% of American adults are afraid of deep water in pools and 64% are afraid of deep open waters.[9]

Manifestation for aquaphobia[edit]

Specific phobias are a type of anxiety disorder in which a person may feel extremely anxious or have a panic attack when exposed to the object of fear. Specific phobias are a common mental disorder.[10]

Psychologists indicate that aquaphobia manifests itself in people through a combination of experiential and genetic factors.[11] Five common causes of aquaphobia: instinctive fear of drowning, experienced an incident of personal horror, has an overprotective parent/parent with aquaphobia, psychological difficulty adjusting to water and lack of trust in water. [9]

In the case of a 37 year old media professor, he noted that his fear initially presented itself as a "severe pain, accompanied by a tightness of his forehead," and a choking sensation, discrete panic attacks and a reduction in his intake of fluids.[12]

Signs and symptoms[edit]

Physical responses include nausea, dizziness, numbness, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, sweating and shivering.[9]

In addition the signs and symptoms above, some general signs and symptoms one may display in reaction to a specific phobia may include:

  • Physical Symptoms: trembling, hot flushes or chills, pain or tightness in chest, butterflies in stomach, feeling faint, dry mouth, ringing in ears, confusion[13]
  • Psychological Symptoms: feeling fear of losing control, fainting, dread and dying. [14]

Treatment and case studies[edit]

A few treatment options include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary. Elsevier. 2011. p. 122.
  2. ^ Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders : DSM-5-TR. Michael B. First, American Psychiatric Association (Fifth edition, text revision ed.). Washington, DC. 2022. pp. 224–229. ISBN 978-0-89042-575-6. OCLC 1288423302.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  3. ^ "Anxiety disorders". Office on Women's Health. US Department of Health and Human Services. Archived from the original on 18 January 2023. Retrieved 20 November 2019. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  4. ^ ὕδωρ Archived 2021-05-09 at the Wayback Machine, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  5. ^ φόβος Archived 2021-02-25 at the Wayback Machine, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  6. ^ Mehta, Neil; Espinel, Zelde (2021-04-01). "Aquaphobia: A Case Report on the Unique Presentation of a Specific Phobia". The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 29 (4): S139–S140. doi:10.1016/j.jagp.2021.01.139. ISSN 1064-7481. Archived from the original on 2023-01-18. Retrieved 2022-03-16.
  7. ^ Wardenaar, K. J.; Lim, C. C. W.; Al-Hamzawi, A. O.; Alonso, J.; Andrade, L. H.; Benjet, C.; Bunting, B.; de Girolamo, G.; Demyttenaere, K.; Florescu, S. E.; Gureje, O. (2017). "The cross-national epidemiology of specific phobia in the World Mental Health Surveys". Psychological Medicine. 47 (10): 1744–1760. doi:10.1017/S0033291717000174. ISSN 1469-8978. PMC 5674525. PMID 28222820.
  8. ^ Líndal, E.; Stefánsson, J. G. (1993). "The lifetime prevalence of anxiety disorders in Iceland as estimated by the US National Institute of Mental Health Diagnostic Interview Schedule". Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. 88 (1): 29–34. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0447.1993.tb03410.x. ISSN 0001-690X. PMID 8372693. S2CID 42323599.
  9. ^ a b c Aboo Bakar, Rofiza. "Aquaphobia: Causes, Symptoms and Ways of Overcoming It for Future Well-being" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-12-22.
  10. ^ "Phobia - simple/specific". MedlinePlus. Archived from the original on 3 October 2019. Retrieved 20 November 2019. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  11. ^ Lynne L. Hall, Fighting Phobias, the Things That Go Bump in the Mind, FDA Consumer Magazine, Volume 31 No. 2, March 1997
  12. ^ Ajinkya. "Cognitive Hypnotherapy for Panic disorder with Aquaphobia". Sleep and Hypnosis. 17.
  13. ^ "Phobias". Retrieved 2023-03-07.
  14. ^ National Health Service. "Symptoms - Phobias". Archived from the original on 2021-05-06.
  15. ^ PhD, Frank DePiano (1985-02-28). "Hypnosis in the Treatment of Aquaphobia". Psychotherapy in Private Practice. 3 (1): 93–97. doi:10.1300/J294v03n01_11. ISSN 0731-7158. Archived from the original on 2023-01-18. Retrieved 2021-06-07.
  16. ^ Ajinkya, Shaunak. "CASE REPORT: Cognitive Hypnotherapy for Panic Disorder with Aquaphobia" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-04-10.