Hydrophobia or Fear of Water Hydrophobia or Fear of Water
Hydrophobia is the fear of water or pathological fear of water spaces. It is necessary to distinguish whether the disease has psychic nature or it is a symptom of rabies.
As a rule, people with this phobia fear the possibility of drowning and the inability to breathe which cause uncontrollable consternation. The disease does not significantly affect the quality of life of the patient if he lives far away from the sea, large lakes and ponds. However, residents of coastal areas should be treated.
In cases when aquaphobia (another term for fear of water) is caused by rabies, people are afraid of water in all its forms: they can not drink and even take liquid food. In addition, there are other symptoms of the disease – aggressive behavior, increased secretion of the salivary glands, spastic pains, etc.
In fact, fear of water in severe cases may also result that the patient can not eat liquid food and experience a panic attack even when a few drops of rain fall on his skin but at the same time he does not behave aggressively and does not experience other symptoms of rabies.
What causes hydrophobia?
Like other mental disorders associated with abnormal fears, aquaphobia occurs because of negative experience with water. So, it includes drowning, shipwreck, water in the lungs while taking liquid food.
In addition, hydrophobia may occur due to excessive person’s imagination. In this case, the fear is based on the person’s theoretical notion that something bad will happen if he sees the sea.
Fears of this type occur in children as a result of unpleasant bathing. In this case, it is sufficient to stay under water for a short period of time. Later on, a person may forget this episode but the fear will exist.
Symptoms of hydrophobia
Hydrophobia symptoms are similar to those of many other mental disorders associated with the occurrence of irrational fears. So, patients have symptoms such as dry mouth, cold sweat, dizziness, muscle hypertonicity. The person with hydrophobia doesn’t want to dive, swim, and take a bath. Moreover, the patient can not overcome his irrational fear of water on his own. In cases when the patient deals with water, he may experience panic attacks and the inability to control emotions and actions. He may experience seizures as well.
However, hydrophobia is not always manifested in so severe forms. The most common symptom of the disease is anxiety. This form of aquaphobia has no significant effect on the patient’s life, and he is able to overcome his fears on his own.
How to overcome the fear of water
Psychotherapy can help to get rid of the fear of water on one’s own. It is necessary to choose beautiful places for swimming, use of protective equipment, including relaxing music. It is advisable to have someone close who can help in case of emergency situations. However, these methods are only suitable for mild forms of the disease.
Treatment of severe forms includes the help of a psychologist or psychiatrist. Cognitive-behavioral therapy or hypnosis is used: the doctor changes the attitude of the patient towards the water.
In some cases, tranquilizers and sedatives are used. Typically, pharmacological therapy is used in severe cases when the patient is not able to visit places for swimming, drink or take hygienic baths.
Prevention measures do not exist. It is necessary to avoid any water-related negative impacts. In addition, it is important to notice any animal bites in order to avoid the development of rabies.
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By Maria Shevtsova
Born in Belarus, 1985, a pedagogue and family psychologist. Taking action in support groups organization and social adaptation of the people with mental disorders. Since 2015 is a chief editor of the undepress.net project, selecting the best and up-to-date material for those, who want to get their life back or help someone dear, who got into mental trap.
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