HYDROPHOBIA: Meaning, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

  • Jul 26, 2021
Hydrophobia: meaning, symptoms, causes and treatment

Phobias can appear in a thousand and one ways, even in things that are totally beneficial to our health. This would be the case with hydrophobia. This phobia consists of having an atrocious and irrational fear of water. The person who suffers from hydrophobia is unable to go to places where it is abundant, such as the pool or the beach, for fear of drowning. In other cases, they are so afraid that they are unable to drink water, this being a great health problem. In this Psychology-Online article, Hydrophobia: meaning, symptoms, causes and treatment, we will delve into its definition and what can be done about it.

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  1. Hydrophobia: meaning
  2. Hydrophobic: definition
  3. Hydrophobia: symptoms
  4. Causes of hydrophobia
  5. Hydrophobia: treatment

Hydrophobia: meaning.

What is hydrophobic? What does hydrophobic mean? Next we will see the definition and the etymological meaning of hydrophobia.

Hydrophobia comes from the two Greek words "hydro" (water) and "phobos" (fear), so it is easy to assume that

the meaning of hydrophobia isafraid of water.

Hydrophilicity and hydrophobicity

Hydrophilicity and hydrophobicity are two concepts that can be confused by their similarity in name, but it couldn't be further from the truth. It is important to know how to differentiate between the two when we refer to them.

  • Hydrophilicity. The term philia corresponds to the word friendship or affinity in its Greek etymology. It is used mainly in the description of chemical substances that can be soluble in water or in botany to refer to plants that use water as a means for their pollination. In psychology, its closest simile would be aquaphilia, a type of paraphilia or fetish that is used to refer to people who enjoy doing sexual activities under water.
  • Hydrophobia. Hydrophobia is a colossal fear response to water and many activities related to it, such as swimming.

Hydrophobic: definition.

"I don't like going to the pool or bathing, Am i hydrophobic?"A hydrophobic person is one who suffers from a specific anxiety disorder or phobia called hydrophobia or aquaphobia, that is, a person who is afraid of water. Hydrophobia is characterized by a intense, irrational and excessive fear to commit any activity related to immersion in or contact with water.

The hydrophobia it can be expressed in different ways. High anxiety can be given by the fear of drowning when swimming, whether due to the false belief or not that you do not have sufficient ability to swim or that an accident may occur. This type of hydrophobia does not have as its main focus the fear of water itself, but is more focused on the fear of dying suffocated by the environment in which it is, which then generalizes to the deep water phobia. At first this type of phobia usually goes unnoticed because it is rare for the hydrophobic person to find themselves in situations where they have to swim and does not usually affect the quality of life for this reason, although it could happen if the fear extends to the use of marine vehicles such as boats.

Another type of hydrophobia would be water panic as such. People who suffer from it feel an extreme aversion to water and try to avoid contact with it as much as possible due to the amount of anxiety they suffer. This can end in avoiding baths or getting into the shower or stopping drinking water. In these cases, the quality of life could be affected, leading to hygiene and health problems by not showering, consequently affecting their social life. Not drinking water would clearly lead to dehydration and serious health problems if left untreated.

Hydrophobia: meaning, symptoms, causes and treatment - Hydrophobic: definition

Hydrophobia: symptoms.

By being part of the anxiety disorders specific or phobias, hydrophobia shares many symptoms of anxiety. They usually appear before the stimulus that causes fear, in this case water, or even imagining situations where it is present. Each person can suffer different symptoms and they live it in a unique way, but they are usually grouped into the following categories:

Hydrophobia: sphysical intomas

  • Dizziness
  • Hyperventilation
  • Tachycardia
  • Vomiting
  • Stomachache
  • Nerves
  • Sweating

Hydrophobia: scognitive intomas

In cases of phobia, fear occurs together with irrational thoughts or beliefs intrusive that aggravate and keep anxiety elevated. These kinds of thoughts are dedicated to catastrophic ideas and negative occurrences that could happen in situations where the element that causes fear would be present. When fear resides in drowning from swimming, the thoughts that would form the symptom picture would be those that they would exaggerate the chances of drowning or that they would highlight the inability to swim. While in cases of aversion to water, the thoughts would be focused on the person he would drown if he drank water or the mistaken belief that water is a harmful substance.

Hydrophobia: sbehavioral intomas

To avoid having the aversive stimulus in front of them as much as possible, people end up developing tactics and methods to avoid facing their fears. These tactics are known as avoidance behaviors and they are usually present in all phobias. The main avoidance behaviors that hydrophobics would use would be:

  • Don't go to the beach
  • Don't go to the pool
  • No shower
  • Do not drink water

Causes of hydrophobia.

What Causes Hydrophobia? Hydrophobia can appear in two main ways:

1. Multifactorial

The first of the causes of hydrophobia is the most frequent and would be in the same way that other phobias appear. That is, there is no exact causality but there are a number of factors that can determine its appearance. For the acquisition of the most common hydrophobicity, these would be the most common factors associated with the appearance of hydrophobicity:

  • Have lived or observed traumatic events related to water. For example, having been on the verge of being drowned.
  • Not having developed swimming skills at an early age.
  • Low self-esteem. In the following article you will find Frequent fears caused by low self-esteem.
  • Acquisition of false beliefs on the danger of water in childhood.
  • Genetic predisposition to anxiety.

2. Hydrophobia from rabies

Why does rabies give hydrophobia? Rage is a infectious viral disease that can affect all mammals and its most common form of transmission is by bite. The rabies virus attacks the brain causing encephalitis and with it a large number of symptoms that evolve over a series of phases until ending with death.

In an advanced stage is where hydrophobia usually appears. QWhy does rabies cause hydrophobia? His presence is due to the inflammation and the appearance of spasms in the pharynx that make it difficult to swallow any liquid in addition to being a painful process. This naturally creates an aversion towards water. Hydrophobia tends to occur so often that the name "hydrophobia" is usually an alternative way of calling this disease.

Distinguishing a rabies hydrophobia from a more classic one is quite easy, since the origin and accompanying physiological symptoms make a completely distinctive clinical picture. Fortunately, rabies can be prevented and cured thanks to the existence of rabies vaccines.

Hydrophobia: Meaning, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment - Causes of Hydrophobia

Hydrophobia: treatment.

Faced with these types of cases, it is normal to wonder if hydrophobia can be cured. Luckily, like all phobias, it can be treated with psychological therapies. In the case of rabies hydrophobia, its corresponding medical treatment is usually sufficient to remit its symptoms.

To overcome the fear of water, they will be used cognitive-behavioral techniques that will focus mainly on making fear disappear little by little from the exhibition water or stressful environmentstobefore, giving tools to cope with anxiety and work on the irrational thoughts and beliefs that maintain fear. The most used techniques in the treatment of hydrophobia are:

  • Live exhibition
  • Cognitive restructuring
  • Relaxation techniques

This article is merely informative, in Psychology-Online we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.

If you want to read more articles similar to Hydrophobia: meaning, symptoms, causes and treatment, we recommend that you enter our category of Clinical psychology.


  • American Psychiatric Association (2013). DSM-5 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Washington: American Psychiatric Publishing.
  • Bonet, J. I. C. (2001). Effective psychological treatments for specific phobias. Psychothema, 13(3), 447-452.
  • Orgilés, M., Rosa, A. I., Santacruz, I., Méndez, X., Olivares, J., & Sánchez-Meca, J. (2002). Well-established and highly effective psychological treatments: behavior therapy for specific phobias. Behavioral Psychology, 10(3), 481-502.

Hydrophobia: meaning, symptoms, causes and treatment

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