Bathophobia (A Complete Guide)

In this blog, we will deliberate what Bathophobia is, its nature, causes, symptoms and modes of treatment. 

Bathophobia is a fear of depths and the person who suffers from it cannot even imagine himself near depths or near places that depict a certain depth.

This kind of phobia is a part of anxiety disorder and leaves the sufferer in a condition that elicits extreme fear when even thinking about a depth.

The places that depict depth and subsequent fear include ocean, lakes, rivers, wells, canyons, caves and even the edge of a cliff.

Phobias usually develop during childhood, teenage years or early adolescence.

Bathophobia is usually caused by a previous traumatic event or accident, familial disposition and imitation.’


If there is a presence of phobia it may so happen that another one exists alongside it as well.

A person suffering form Bathophobia my also suffer from Acrophobia (fear of heights), Aquaphobia (fear of water) and even Achluophobia (fear of darkness)

Bathophobia is an irrational and insistent fear of depths.

Anxiety predominates even though the sufferer may not be in a place that holds actual threat.

The feared place may be a corridor, a swimming pool or even a well.

A person who is afraid of heights may realize at one time that it is the actual depth of places and not the height that scares him.

A sense of being ‘engulfed’ is commonly running through this type of fear and a feeling of falling into an abyss that it bottomless consumes them.  

There is a feeling of dread that may be present in situations that do not pose any real threat. For example, a hallway.

If the hallway is shadowed by darkness, then it may seem to the sufferer as having either no end at the other side or no bottom at all, if he steps into it.

Such fears leave the individual in a state of desperation to avoid non threatful situations as well, only at the pretext that a danger might exist and harm them.

They even start to experience physical symptoms of anxiety even at the mention or the imagery of a depth.

Causes of Bathophobia

The onset of Bathophobia may stem out from a number of reasons.

  1. Genetic Predisposition

Anxiety and related phobias have a significant genetic basis according to Genome Biol. 2003; If a person is suffering from Bathophobia then chances are that there might be an anxiety disorder of one form or another. 

There is a high prevalence rate of the existence in a person to develop phobias, depression and anxieties if someone in the family is already suffering from it.

It could also be that the person is already suffering from a mental or psychological disorder prior to his developing this phobia.

There have been cases where the presence of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) brought on severe symptoms of Bathophobia.

  1. A previous Trauma or Accident

Rational and irrational fear, both develop due to an event or incidence that took place in the past.

Either the incident was of such profound proportions or the threat implied to it generated emotions of a magnitude. Thus, the fear flowered!

Childhood is the time of vulnerability and of forming schemas that will stay with the child for all times to come, shaping and casting how he would respond in the future.

A person suffering from Bathophobia may have experienced a near downing or a falling down experience. 

They are actually afraid of not seeing or fathoming the bottom of a place and the darkness associated with it.

This darkness arises from the fear of the unknown, where we actually are afraid of what lies ahead.

When we can’t see something or assess its intensity, then we associate the negative with it.

Bathophobia is also associated with a fear of falling down either from the edge, therefore, people who suffer avoid railings and terraces.

The fear is also emanated from looking down into wells or the elevator shafts, even getting into an elevator may be cumbersome in extreme cases.

The fear of depth is a very valid fear, associated with oceans, lakes and wells, because the bottoms of these cannot be distinguished.

And when something cannot be deciphered always leaves a doubt in the mind. 

We are all cautious near places that do not have definitive boundaries or the end is unseen.

It so happens in Bathophobia that this caution is detrimental in converting into fear itself.

  1. Imitation or Modeling 

Fears (general or specific) are very common in all of us.

There might be a rarity where people are not really afraid, but in 90% of the cases in universal population, fear is present.

Fear of one thing or another. 

Children learn behaviors from their parents, siblings or significant another. They learn positive as well as negative behaviors.

That is the reason people tend to carry themselves around in a particular or desirable behavior in front of their kids. 

If a parent seems to be afraid then chances are higher that the child/children will replicate the same, without knowing the real cause of the scare.

Symptoms of Bathophobia

Phobias limit the daily activities. And Bathophobia overlaps with other forms of anxieties to widen the horizon of their limitations.

Panic like symptoms are common in all phobias, including this one as well.

The onset of symptoms is very sudden and take the sufferer by surprise. 

They may occur at the mere mention of a word depicting the fear, an image of a place that has profound depth or seems to be deep, even the thought of going near the frightful object can bring on the symptoms.

  1. Physical symptoms

The physical symptoms of Bathophobia include:

  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sensation of Choking 
  • Trembling
  • Tachycardia
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Confusion
  • Dry mouth
  • Feeling faint
  1. Psychological Symptoms

The psychological symptoms of Bathophobia include:

The symptoms can vary in severity, depending on the nature of the stimulus.

Treatment of Bathophobia

The therapies or treatment for Bathophobia are the same as for anxiety disorder.

Either one in isolation or an eclectic approach may prove effective, depending on the severity of the symptoms.

Medication, like anxiolytics (anti-anxiety drugs) can also be used in conjunction with therapy.

Following are the treatments that are effective:

  1. Talking Treatment
  1. Medication 
  1. Self Help techniques
  1. Talking Treatment

Talking Treatment is another name for counseling and psychotherapy

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

This is a form of counseling that helps to modify the behavior by altering the thought process of the client.

The therapist teaches practical ways of dealing with fear.

In CBT the person will rationalize his fear by ‘looking’ at his thoughts. He will learn to determine the connection between thoughts and action.

He analyzes his thoughts before going near edges on a high rise or near water bodies like a swimming pool.

This kind of therapy is highly effective.

CBT amends the thoughts that brought on the intense fear that did not have a valid reason.

Exposure Therapy

In this form of therapy, the client is ‘Exposed’ to the source of his fear.

This exposure is of varying intensities, starting from the least intense to the most intense situation.

The client will be shown images of bottomless pits or wells to desensitize him to the fearing stimulus.

The highest intensity of exposure will be when he will be physically taken at the edge of a well, pool or on a boat in the middle of the sea. 

But these intense exposures will only take place once the client has learnt to control his thoughts and monitor his state of emotions.

Increasing the levels of exposure enables him to control his phobia in the long run.

  1. Medication 

Medication is only recommended in extreme cases.

Anti-anxiety drugs to alleviate the symptoms of panic can be used, anti-depressants can be given if the phobia verges on a risk level of the person going into depression.

  1. Self – Help Techniques

These involve various methods that can be applied by the client himself.


The different poses of yoga redirect the attention to more productive tasks.

These postures can be easily learnt and adopted., but should be carried out regularly for yoga to be effective.

Yoga has since years been an effective way of unplugging from the stresses and indulging in the quietness of the mind.

Being conscious of your breath is an important part of yoga.

In Bathophobia, when we are faced with stress, we start to hyperventilate.

This in turn causes dizziness due to imbalanced intake of oxygen.

Therefore, focusing on breathing helps to calm and be rid of other symptoms of panic.

Yoga also helps to fight stress by bringing the body out of the flight and fight state as well as gives the mind to reflect on the self.

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

In Bathophobia, mindfulness plays a pivotal role in refocusing the thoughts from the stressful stimulus to another stimulus that has a calming effect and does not come with any emotional gear. 

A simple exercise of focusing on the breathing during inhalation and exhalation is beneficial for destressing.

Paying attention to the muscles in the abdomen while breathing, the feel of lying down on the bed and being aware of your entire body.

With training, these practices are thought to reduce the habitual tendency to automatically and compulsively engage in and react to mental states and environments (Segal et al., 2002).

Life style Changes

The client is encouraged to make changes in his monotonous routine and add exercise, good eating habits and regular self-help groups. 

What is a fear of depth called?

The fear of depth is called Bathophobia and it is an irrational fear.

Why am I afraid of swimming?

You may be afraid of swimming if you are afraid of the depth of the pool or the ocean.

The fear of the depth is called Bathophobia, but for this phobia to occur, the fear has to take an extreme form displaying the symptoms of panic.

Is bathophobia considered an anxiety disorder?

Yes. Bathophobia is considered an anxiety disorder, because they share the same symptoms. 

Is Bathophobia a fear of taking baths?

No. Bathophobia is not a fear of taking baths, but a fear of depths.

It is an irrational fear.

What is a fear of deep water called?

The fear of deep water is called Thalassophobia. 

We are available to answer your queries related to phobias.

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