In this blog we will discuss the symptoms, causes and treatments of Cymophobia.
Fear of waves or wave-like motions is called Cymophobia. People fear these motions may be because of the dizzy feeling they cause.
It is not a very common phobia but is linked with fear of water (Aquaphobia).
People suffering from this specific phobia feel extreme anxiety when exposed to waves or wave-like motions.
Because Cymophobia comes under the category of anxiety disorders in the DSM-V, one gets extremely anxious at the mere thought of getting exposed to their fear stimuli.
These overwhelmingly high levels of anxiety cause hindrances in the sufferers day-to-day activities.
According to the DSM-V, hurdles in daily activities are called social and occupational dysfunction.
Repetitive avoidance, caused by anxiety is what leads to this dysfunction. For example, one will avoid going into the sea or near water because of the wave-like motions they have.
One will also refrain from going on rides that produce these wave-like motions.
These avoidances and social occupational dysfunction can make the sufferer feel safe and pleasant.
This sense of security maintains their phobia because it proves to them that their fear stimulus is dangerous and threatening.
Though, these feelings are short-lived. In the future, an individual is very likely to develop OCD and or depression.
Cymophobia can also cause the sufferer to develop a fear of sea (Thalassophobia) and or fear of water (Aquaphobia).
An individual suffers from misery, which can give rise to full-blown panic attacks if exposed to waves or wave-like motions.
One may require hospitalization as a result.
Cymophobia is an irrational fear of waves or wave-like motions. The name originates from the Greek word ‘cymo’ meaning wave and ‘phobos’ meaning fear.
Symptoms of Cymophobia
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders-5th Edition (DSM-V) suggests a number of symptoms one suffers from in all specific phobias, including Cymophobia.
This irrational fear of waves/wave-like motion is a part of anxiety disorders, thus anxiety is it’s pivotal symptom.
It aggravates other physiological symptoms, such as heart rate, breathing rate and one’s mood. These symptoms persuade the repetitive acts of avoidance as mentioned earlier.
Because each individual experiences Cymophobia differently (based on their past experiences), one will suffer from more severe symptoms , as compared to someone else.
According to the DSM-V, anxiety that one experiences in Cymophobia should last for at least 6-months.
Other than this, one should also suffer from 3-5 symptoms for the list mentioned below.
- Excessive anxiety when exposed to waves or wave-like motions
- Excessive anxiety when thinking about waves or wave-like motions
- Inability to manage anxiety
- Full-blown panic attacks
- Avoiding waves or wave-like motions
- Increased heart beat
- Muscle tension
- Feelings of dizziness/fainting
- Feeling depressed
- Fear of an impending doom
- Excessive sweating
- Hot/cold flashes
- Butterflies in the stomach
- Drying up of the mouth
Causes of Cymophobia
It is argued that all anxiety disorders, including specific phobias have no real cause.
They are caused by either a genetic predisposition and or environmental factors.
According to the genetic/biological model, specific phobias are developed due to a genetic predisposition.
Someone who has a family history of anxiety disorder has a higher chance of developing Cymophobia.
This is because any alteration in the genes of his parents will be transferred to him.
This genetic tendency to develop a specific phobia is further explained by the Diathesis-stress relationship.
This suggests that someone with a genetic predisposition will develop Cymophobia only in the presence of the correct environmental trigger event.
Those environmental trigger events refer to the past-traumatic experiences associated with one’s fear stimuli.
For example, someone who drowned in sea or water because of waves is very likely to develop Cymophobia.
Also, one who fears Tsunami and or has experienced it will be afraid of waves.
Additionally, an individual whose parents are fearful of waves or wave-like motions can also learn to be afraid of them.
Theri phobia can be a result of learned behaviour.
Thus, Cymophobia is caused by both genetics and environmental factors.
Treatment of Cymophobia
Cymophobia, like all other specific phobias, has no exclusive type of treatment that is specifically designed to treat it.
Like all the other specific phobias, Cymophobia is treated using Psychological therapies, and or biological treatment to lower anxiety.
• Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
It is one of the most frequently used treatments for patients with almost all kinds of mental disorders. Cymophobia is defined as the irrational fear of waves or wave-like motions.
Thus, the therapist helps the patient in replacing these irrational thoughts with more rational ones.
The patients are helped out in analyzing and justifying the way they feel about their fear stimuli.
Therapists assist them in uncovering the reasons behind their fear and later they provide them with alternate, pleasant thoughts.
The therapist tries to prove to them, with the help of these rational thoughts that vampires are not real and thus, unharmful.
The patient is told to maintain a thought diary (with ABCD column) which provides them a replacement for every irrational thought they have, when thinking about a particular situation.
The ABCD stands for:
i. A (antecedents) a situation or triggering event.
ii. B (belief) the thought that comes to one’s mind when in that triggering situation.
iii. C (consequences) the symptoms/feelings caused by that event/thought
iv. D (dispute) alternate, rational thoughts provided by the therapist in an attempt to dispute/challenge those irrational beliefs.
This last section of the thought diary is what really plays a role in helping the person feel good/less anxious.
• Exposure Therapy
It is one of the most frequently used ways of treating patients with Cymophobia (or any other kind of specific phobia).
In this therapy, the patient is exposed to the source of his fear over a certain span of time.
To begin with the therapy, the therapist exposes the patient to the least triggering stimuli, a picture of waves for example.
As the therapy progresses and the patient is able to control his anxious feelings, imagery can be used to take the treatment a step further.
In this part of the treatment the patient is asked to visualize/imagine a situation in which he is exposed to waves or wave-like motions.
During this process of imagery, one actually feels being in that particular situation or place, experiencing various senses.
Once the person successfully, without feeling anxious clears this step of the therapy, he is then exposed to real waves.
While the patient is being exposed to different intensities of stimuli during the various stages of therapy, the therapist simultaneously teaches them coping exercises.
These include, breathing techniques or muscle relaxation methods to lower their anxiety, when in an actual fear/anxiety causing situation.
This teaches them how to remain calm when exposed to the fear stimuli.
Before actually starting the exposure therapy, the therapist needs to figure out the intensity of the patient’s fear, as to deduce whether they will be able to undergo this treatment, without any physical or psychological harm caused to them during the exposure processes.
However, these steps desensitize one to their fear of waves or wave-like motions, by exposing them to that stimuli repeatedly, until they learn to undergo the situation without anxiety/panic attacks.
• Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
This another form of treatment used with patients suffering from specific phobia or anxiety disorders.
It is used with patients who know the cause of their phobia.
First, the therapist collects the patients’ history of different fears. They then identify the real cause of the particular fear/phobia the patient has.
They then discuss any new/latest event that triggered their anxiety and fear in the past few weeks.
People coming with specific phobias are told to imagine their distress causing stimuli.
The therapist then works with the individual in order for them to overcome their fear. In the case of Cymophobia, the patient will be advised on how to overcome his fear.
They do this by creating a positive imagery for the patients’ feared stimuli.
They are not just one of the many treatment therapies used for Cymophobia, instead they are one of the most common ways of relaxation used by many people.
Yoga tends to stimulate the meditative state of one’s mind while the person is in a particular yoga posture.
Through yoga/meditation the mind is diverted towards something more productive and calm, allowing the person to escape the negative, distress causing thoughts.
Out of a number of yoga types, one can benefit from any yoga type/pose they like. Hatha yoga is one of the different types of yoga.
The breathing techniques or the imagery one creates while in a yoga posture are the real factors that makes the person feel less anxious and diverts their mind, away from the thoughts about their fear stimuli.
• Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
This is another effective therapy used to treat Cymophobia.
It is more commonly used with people suffering from personality disorders, but is also useful with patients suffering from this type of specific phobia.
Coping skills are taught in the DBT group which lasts for about 6-months and can have a number of people (depending on how many join the group).
i.Half-smiling is the first module of DBT. It is a technique that is used with patients who are distressed because of their irrational thoughts.
The technique is known as ‘Half-smiling’ because the person is first advised to think about the stimuli that fears or upsets them, and while doing so they are told to lift the corners of their mouths by subtly smiling.
Smiling is not that will help one get rid of these unpleasant thoughts, it is the person’s ability to constrain itself from thinking about those thoughts while half smiling.
ii.Mindfulness, the second module, is another technique used in DBT groups which helps the individual in getting rid of those negative thoughts.
Individuals are told to focus on the present and be attentive to what is going on around them at the moment.
This helps in breaking the link between their mind and any negative thought that might come to them then.
For example, a person is told to focus on his breath or on the sound of the wind around them, making use of their auditory sense.
iii.The third technique or module of the DBT is distress tolerance skills. This module teaches people to calm themselves down in healthy ways when they are distressed or emotionally overwhelmed.
Individuals are allowed to make wise, rational decisions and take immediate action, rather than being captured by emotionally destructive thoughts that might make the situation worse.
Reality acceptance skills are also learnt under this model so that people fully accept reality and later make plans on how to address the problem.
• Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
MBSR is a meditation therapy, used to manage stress or anxiety. It is an 8-week program which includes group sessions. Mindfulness meditation and Hatha yoga are practiced in these sessions.
Lectures and group discussions are also done to talk about mental health and increase interactivity.
In mindfulness meditation the person is told to, for example, focus on the sensations felt while breathing or the rhythm of the chest rising and falling during the process.
This distracts the person’s attention from something stressful to something which is neutral and soothing.
For quick and effective treatment, patients are also given a set of home works, for example 45 minutes of yoga and meditation sessions for 6 days a week and to record their results/feelings in a book or diary for 15 minutes a day.
• Drug Therapy
Drugs are used to reduce the physical symptoms caused by Cymophobia.
Drugs are very quick in effectiveness, as they start showing progress in the patients’ health at least 2 weeks after the medicine is taken.
This type of biological treatment is usually more effective if the cause of phobia is only genetic.
However, these drugs/medicines are not to be taken without a doctor’s prescription or consultation.
Two types of drugs are used in the treatment of this phobia:
i. Anti-anxiety Drugs
These include medicines like Klonopin.
They are most commonly used with patients who experience panic attacks and also lowers the anxiety by binding to receptor cells of the brain that cause these unpleasant symptoms.
ii. Antidepressant Drugs
These drugs as the name suggests don’t only treat depression but are also very effective in treating phobias.
Medicines like Lexapro reduce the anxious feelings of a person and makes him feel calm. They need to be taken on a daily basis but not without a doctor’s advice.
Whether the cause of Cymophobia, or any other type of specific phobia is genetics, environmental or both, the best and the most effective way of treating them is by using a combination of both biological treatments (drugs) with cognitive treatment (for example CBT/exposure therapy).
Titles to read
by Barbara Brennessel
- Overcoming Animal and Insect Phobias: How to Conquer Fear of Dogs, Snakes, Rodents, Bees, Spiders, and More
by Martin M. Antony and Randi E. McCabe
by Ronald M Doctor, Ada P Kahn, et al.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy, Third Edition: Basic Principles, Protocols, and Procedures
by Francine Shapiro
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
What we recommend for Phobias
- If you are suffering from Phobias then ongoing professional counselling could be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you address the fears you are facing.
Weighted Blankets may help you sleep better if your phobias are affecting your quality of sleep. Weighted blankets apply enough weight on you that they make you feel much more relaxed and calm at night.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1) What is the fear of Tsunamis called?
Tusnamiphobia is an irrational fear of tsunamis.
Q2) How do I get over my fear of waves?
Consult a doctor.
The psychologist/psychiatrist, with the help of psychotherapies and or biological treatment will cure one’s fear of waves.
Q3) Why am I scared of waves?
Because waves at times are too big and dangerous that one can easily drown in the sea.
Q4) What’s the rarest phobia?
Allodoxaphobia is the irrational fear of opinions.
Below is a complete list of all Phobias which we currently cover.