Limnophobia is the irrational fear of lakes. Someone experiencing this condition may find it virtually impossible to be near lakes or to even see them from a far distance. Depending on the intensity of their limnophobia, they may even experience full blown panic attacks that may require them to be hospitalized. However, this may not be the case for everyone.

Someone experiencing limnophobia may make major life decisions that are based solely on their mental illness. For instance, they may decide that their fear of lakes is so intense that they will make a conscious effort to live in an area that is free of any sort of lake or body of water. They may do this in an attempt to avoid the very intrusive anxiety that is associated with limnophobia.

Even though someone with this condition may feel as though that the best way for them to limit the intrusive anxiety that they will inevitably experience when near a lake is to avoid lakes, doing so may only exacerbate their limnophobia in the long run. Avoidance of something that a person fears is a very common behavior with people who suffer from anxiety disorders as it can help them to experience momentary relief from their anxiety.

It may also not be uncommon for someone with this phobia to also be very fearful of objects or places that remind them of lakes. For example, someone may experience fear when looking at boats or marshes that is analogous to the amount of fear they would experience when looking at lakes.



Symptoms of Limnophobia

One of the most profound symptoms of limnophobia is anxiety. This is the case with virtually every phobia. Someone with this condition may have anxiety that is so intrusive that they may find it quite difficult to cope with day to day life. They may see a picture of a lake or see depictions of a lake on TV, which may give them extremely high amounts of anxiety. They may in fact realize that their intrusive fear of lakes is irrational, but when in the presence of a lake they may be unable to convince themselves of this.

Their inability to think rationally about their fear of lakes, as well as their inability to sufficiently cope with very strong emotions may greatly exacerbate their limnophobia. Besides being extremely fearful of lakes, they may also develop other anxiety disorders insofar as they have the genetic makeup to do so.

For instance, someone with limnophobia may find themselves obsessing over their fear of lakes to the point to where they may develop full blown obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). This is very plausible to conceive as having a very strong obsession about a particular fear is often how OCD can develop (depending on their genetic makeup of course).

Below, you will see some more common symptoms of limnophobia:

  • Intense anxiety when near a lake or when looking at a lake
  • Anxiety when thinking about a lake
  • Unable to cope with very strong emotions
  • May experience full blown panic attacks
  • Muscle tension and an increased heart rate

Causes of Limnophobia

There is no known cause of limnophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may play very significant roles in its development. For instance, if someone has a family history of mental illness, especially with anxiety disorders or phobias, then they may have an increased chance of developing limnophobia. This may have to do with their increased chance of having a genetic predisposition to develop mental illness.

If they were to have such a genetic predisposition, then it may only require that they experience some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full blown limnophobia. Such a traumatic experience may be that they almost drowned in a lake before, they may have known someone who has drowned in a lake before, or some other analogously severe experience.

Though we do not know exactly what causes limnophobia, we can definitely look at one’s family history and their current or past environment to help provide us with a better indication of whether or not someone may or may not develop limnophobia. It is also plausible to conceive that someone may develop this condition as a result of them already suffering from a different anxiety disorder such as OCD or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).



Limnophobia Treatments (abridged)

There is no known treatment that is specifically designed for this condition. However, exposure therapy may be very beneficial for someone suffering from limnophobia. Exposure therapy is one of the most common forms of therapy for treating phobias. Just as the name implies, it works by having the therapist slowly expose the patient to that which they fear. Theoretically, the more someone is exposed to that which they fear, the less it will bother them.

As it relates to limnophobia, the therapist may “expose” the patient to lakes during their therapy session by showing them pictures of lakes or videos of lakes. They may also ask their patient to go near lakes on their own time so that they can expose themselves to a real lake. Though this may give the patient intense amounts of anxiety, the goal would be for them to eventually be desensitized from their fear of lakes by being repetitively exposed to lakes.

Exposure therapy is not for everyone as it can bring forth an extremely high amount of intrusive anxiety. With that being said, it is imperative that it be implemented by a very experienced therapist who has treated phobias before. This will help to increase the success rate of the patient. In addition to exposure therapy, anti-anxiety medication may also be advantageous, but this is something that should be discussed with you and your doctor.

If you think you have limnophobia or if you are suffering from some of the symptoms of this condition, then you should talk to your doctor as soon as you can so that you can be properly diagnosed and treated. Upon seeing your doctor, she may refer you to see a specialist such as a psychiatrist or a therapist to help better treat your limnophobia.




Treatments (expanded)

Exercise for Limnophobia

Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including limnophobia. Specifically, cardiovascular exercise can significantly help to relieve one’s stress. This is not to say that weight-resistance training would not benefit someone with anxiety, but rather that aerobic exercise is has been shown to be more effective at releasing those feel good chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins.

According to the American Psychology Association, exercise can help to condition the mind to better cope with stressful situations. This makes sense when we take into consideration the high amount of stress that the body is put under during strenuous exercise. So, if you yourself are sedentary, then engaging in some form of aerobic exercise may be able to significantly help reduce your symptoms of limnophobia by making it much easier for you to cope with the anxiety and stress that’s associated with this condition.

There are many different aerobic modalities that you can partake in to help reduce your symptoms of limnophobia, such as swimming, biking, skiing, walking, and jogging. You can also acquire the many benefits of exercise by playing sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball, and racquetball, among many other sports. Engaging in some form of exercise consistently may be able to help relieve some of the pain associated with limnophobia over time.

Practicing Yoga for Limnophobia

There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from limnophobia. In part, this is due to the meditative state of mind that yoga tends to emit in those who practice it on a consistent basis. Yoga can be thought of as meditation in motion. It can help to relieve some of the anxiety associated with limnophobia due to the mere fact that by engaging in yoga, your attention will be redirected to something more productive.

There are many different types of yoga that someone with limnophobia can benefit from, such as hatha yoga or hot yoga, among many others. Nevertheless, regardless of the many different forms of yoga that exist, virtually all of them can help to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that is associated with limnophobia.

If you have never practiced yoga before, then it may be in your best interest to take a class or watch some guided videos that can help you through each pose. Just like with meditation, the more you practice yoga, the more adept you will become at it. Besides helping you to reduce your symptoms of limnophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.

Reducing Caffeine for Limnophobia

It is no secret that consuming large amounts of caffeine throughout the day can aid in making you more anxious. This makes sense when we look closely at how caffeine affects our body’s physiology. When we consume a high dose of caffeine, our heart will start to beat faster and we become more tense. Essentially, our body will begin to go into a “fight or flight” state of mind. Such a frame of mind is often a precursor for someone with limnophobia to experience panic attacks.

So, consuming little to no caffeine throughout the day may be able to significantly help reduce your day to day anxiety. Although doing so will likely not make all of your anxiety go away, it will indeed help you to reduce any unnecessary suffering that you would have otherwise experienced if you were to consume a large amount of caffeine.

Beverages like coffee and tea are often high in caffeine, as well as some energy drinks. In fact, even some foods have caffeine in them as well, such as dark chocolate. Being more conscious of your daily caffeine consumption may help you to reduce some of the symptoms associated with limnophobia.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Limnophobia

DBT is a very effective form of treatment for people struggling with emotion regulation. It is often used to treat people suffering from borderline personality disorder. Nevertheless, it can also be very advantageous for someone suffering from anxiety disorders like limnophobia too. This is due to the numerous amount of coping skills you can expect to learn in a DBT group. These groups typically last about 6 months long and can have anywhere from two people to several people depending on how many join the group.

One very effective DBT skill for helping someone with limnophobia is half-smiling. This technique works by having you think about that which you fear or upsets you all while slightly raising the corners of your mouth by lightly smiling, thus the term “half-smiling.” Although, it isn’t enough to just think about your fear while half-smiling, you also have to try and refrain from entertaining those painful emotions that your specific fear may evoke.

Mindfulness meditation is also heavily used in DBT and can greatly benefit someone with limnophobia as it is done in a group setting, which helps to put the patient out of their comfort zone. These group mindfulness practices may include drinking warm tea to hone in on the sense of taste and tactile senses or simply focusing on the breath.

Coping ahead is another very useful DBT skill that can help someone with limnophobia. With coping ahead, you will want to find a place where you can sit down quietly without distraction. Close your eyes and then think about the many different possible scenarios where you would face your specific fear and overcome it or cope with it. Doing so will help you to be much better adept at coping with your limnophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.

Psychiatric Medications for Limnophobia

Anti-anxiety meds

These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe limnophobia due to the fact that people with phobias often experience panic attacks as well. Some common anti-anxiety medications include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, among many others.

These types of drugs are not typically taken on a daily basis, but they may be insofar as their limnophobia is severe enough. However, this is something that you should first discuss with your doctor before you decide to do so to ensure that it is safe and effective.

Antidepressants

These types of medications aren’t only for people who suffer from depression as they can also help people suffering from anxiety disorders as well, such as limnophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of limnophobia.

These types of drugs are typically taken on a daily basis. They can indeed help prevent panic attacks from occurring, but they are more so used to help reduce people’s daily anxiety. Talk to your doctor to see if taking antidepressants can help to reduce your symptoms of limnophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.



Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Limnophobia

CBT is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve one’s mental health. It is a modality that is often used to treat people suffering from anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. Someone with limnophobia may also be able to benefit from CBT as well seeing as how it would allow them to have a much better understanding as to why they think and behave the way they do in relation to their irrational fears.

CBT can be immensely helpful for someone with limnophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with limnophobia is exposed to their fear, they will almost always have an instantaneous subconscious reaction to their fear. Such a lack of introspection is likely a large part of why someone with this condition will suffer to the extent that they will. CBT can help you to take a step back and analyze your fears more deeply than you typically would.

Besides learning to be more fastidious with regards to understanding one’s specific fears, someone with limnophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Limnophobia

MBSR is an 8-week evidence-based program that offers secular, intensive mindfulness training to help people who are suffering from anxiety, stress, depression, and other sorts of mental anguish. MBSR may be able to significantly help someone who is suffering from limnophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with limnophobia can expect to learn a plethora of different skills that can help them to relieve the intense anxiety that’s associated with their specific phobia.

Talk to your doctor or therapist to see if MBSR can help you to reduce the intensity of your symptoms of limnophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.

Practicing Meditation for Limnophobia

There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from limnophobia. Specifically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be quite beneficial for helping people to enter into a more equanimeous state. There are many different ways with which you can implement mindfulness meditation and there are also many different meditation apps which are designed to make things as easy as possible for you.

Mindfulness has the potential to significantly help those suffering from limnophobia due to how it will help one to distract themselves from their fear by refocusing their attention onto something else that does not have any sort of emotional baggage attached to it, such as by focusing on the breath for example. This is one of the most basic ways that one can meditate and be present.

For someone with limnophobia in the midst of a panic attack, redirecting one’s attention to the various sensations felt when breathing can actually help to reduce the amount of mental anguish experienced during such an influx of anxiety.

To implement mindfulness meditation to help relieve one’s symptoms of limnophobia, you can do so by paying close attention to the way the muscles in your abdomen and chest contract and relax with every inhale and exhale. You can spend time dwelling on how it feels as your chest expands during each inhale and how it sinks in with every exhale.

Besides focusing on your breathing, you can also focus on the sounds around you, the way your skin feels as you touch certain objects, the way foods taste, as well as the way certain aromas smell. Essentially, honing into your 5 senses can significantly help you to reduce some of the anxiety that is associated with limnophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.

Exposure Therapy for Limnophobia

As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as limnophobia. It can be an efficient way to help desensitize the patient to their specific fears. Be that as it may, it is imperative that the therapist implementing it on their patient is very adept at doing so. For example, if the therapist were to slightly expose someone with limnophobia to their fear, then it may not be very effective as they may need a higher amount of exposure to truly trigger any sort of worthwhile change in the patient.

The same can be said for the antithesis of this scenario. If the therapist were to excessively expose someone with limnophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their limnophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with limnophobia has a very strong sense of just how severe their symptoms are so that they can know the level of exposure that the patient will likely be able to handle.