Bathophobia: Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Morbid fear of deep places or of looking into them. The precise cause of bathophobia is not yet known. Though a number of studies and researches were already made, there is not yet enough information as to what exactly the reason why a person experience phobias like bathophobia.

Someone with bathophobia can start to experience physical symptoms of anxiety and distress around depths, or when depths are described or shown in an image. These symptoms can include sweating, an elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, trembling, and nausea. The patient usually feels better when the source of the stress is removed.

The origins of phobias can sometimes be difficult to determine. Someone who fears depths may have had a traumatic experience such as nearly drowning in deep water or being frightened in a long dark hallway. In other cases, people develop phobias due to exposure to frightening stories and news reports. This can include books, films, and audio reports such as stories on the radio.

This fear of depths can be caused by anything from deep water to looking down a dark well or shaft where the blackness renders you unable to see the bottom. Bathophobia can then lead to fears of other things, such as elevators, as by entering a lift you are then putting yourself in a position where you could possibly fall. Famous Star Trek actor, William Shatner, unfortunately, suffers from this phobia.

Fearing depth is not unreasonable. Most people have a natural caution of water which is so deep that the bottom cannot be discerned, or of environments like hallways in which the end cannot be seen. For people with bathophobia, this entirely normal caution around depths has been replaced with an intense fear. The patient often fears to fall and may feel dizzy or disoriented even when the situation is actually very safe.


Physical Symptoms:

  • Dizziness, shaking, palpitations.
  • Shortness of breath or smothering sensation.
  • Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate.
  • Chest pain or discomfort.
  • Trembling or shaking.
  • Feeling of choking.
  • Sweating.
  • Nausea or stomach distress.
  • Feeling unsteady, dizzy, lightheaded, or faint.
  • Numbness or tingling sensations.
  • Hot or cold flashes.


  • Obsessive thoughts.
  • Difficulty thinking about anything other than the fear.
  • Really bad images and/or movies of depth.
  • Feelings of unreality or of being detached from yourself.
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy.
  • Fear of fainting.


The vast majority of cases of bathophobia are self-diagnosed. The person realizes that their fear of fear is irrational and has severely compromised their daily functioning. The bathophobic person may then schedule an appointment with their doctor to discuss their phobia. Typically, the doctor will never make a diagnosis of bathophobia based on that first appointment. More routinely, the doctor, after ruling out any physical reason for the phobia, will refer the individual to a mental health professional for further assessment and evaluation.



There are actually two kinds of treatment for phobias like bathophobia: Therapy and Medication.

At present, there are a number of therapies you can try and so far the most popular among them is the therapy that involves self-help. In this therapy, you will be taught how to conquer your fears progressively but successfully without any drug assistance. Treatment for bathophobia generally includes psychotherapy to explore the origins of the phobia and to try to break the fear down. A psychotherapist may use systematic desensitization to get the patient feeling comfortable around depths, and may also offer medications to treat anxiety while the phobia is brought under control. Every patient is different, and treatment approaches may need to be adjusted to find the method which works most effectively for a given individual. People who do not experience immediate success with bathophobia treatment should not despair, as they may simply need more time or a different therapist. A good therapist will refer a patient if she or he feels that the patient would be better served by a different practitioner.

In the case of medication, well, at present, there is a wide range of persuasive drugs you and your doctor can choose from. However, most of these persuasive drugs do have some side effects and withdrawal symptoms, so you need to consider them first. Not to mention as well that persuasive drugs cannot cure bathophobia itself, instead only the symptoms.

Other phobias:

NOTE: The above information is for processing purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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