Aquaphobia or waterfright is a persistent and abnormal fear of water.[1] Aquaphobia is a specific phobia that involves a level of fear of water that is beyond the patient's control or that may interfere with daily life.[2] People suffer aquaphobia in many ways and may experience it even though they realize the water in an ocean, a river, or even a bathtub poses 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.[3] This anxiety commonly extends to getting wet or splashed with water when it is unexpected, or being pushed or thrown into a body of water.



Of the simple phobias, aquaphobia is among the more common subtypes. 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.[4]


Psychologists indicate that aquaphobia manifests itself in people through a combination of experiential and genetic factors.[5] 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".[6] In addition to this he experienced a choking sensation, discrete panic attacks and a reduction in his intake of fluids. [7] These manifestations can have a profound effect on a person's health, work, confidence and overall wellbeing.


The correct Greek-derived term for "water-fear" is hydrophobia, from ὕδωρ (hudōr), "water"[8] and φόβος (phobos), "fear".[9] 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.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary
  2. ^ Edmund J. Bourne, The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook, 4th ed, New Harbinger Publications, 2005, ISBN 1-57224-413-5
  3. ^ Dr. Kennedy's cumulative Vocabulary Course
  4. ^ Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 1993 Jul;88(1):29-34.
  5. ^ Lynne L. Hall, Fighting Phobias, the Things That Go Bump in the Mind, FDA Consumer Magazine, Volume 31 No. 2, March 1997
  6. ^ Ajinkya. "Cognitive Hypnotherapy for Panic Disorder with Aquaphobia". Sleep and Hypnosis. 17.
  7. ^ Ajinkya. "Cognitive Hpnotherapy for Panic disorder with Aquaphobia". Sleep and Hypnosis. 17.
  8. ^ ὕδωρ, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  9. ^ φόβος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus