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The Knowledgebase

What Is Cymophobia – The Fear Of Waves

Fearing What Surfers Love The Most

Cymophobia is defined as an overabundance of fear or anxiety caused by waves or wave-like motions.  Someone suffering from cymophobia could be crippled by anxiety at even the thought of waves or similar motion.  Much cymophobia is centered around water waves, however people with this phobia could fear waves in other forms of matter as well.

Why Do People Have Cymophobia?

Waves can be found in many places – the ocean, lakes, and even pools.  The fear of waves sometimes comes from a fear of losing control – water waves can be extremely powerful, knocking people over and pulling them underwater.  If someone doesn’t know how to swim, this can cause extreme fear.

Even if someone is a good swimmer, waves can make someone feel out of control of their situation.  Waves are exponentially more powerful the bigger they are.  Water is heavy, and as it is a non-compressible form of matter it can really push you around when it hits you.

Another reason people may develop cymophobia is because of the fact that they can cause seasickness.  The undulating motion may cause some people to feel nausea or dizziness, and this may be a key reason they avoid waves.

Some people also may just have a simple fear of tsunamis, which are a type of wave, and not fear other regular ocean waves.

a scary ocean wave may cause cymophobia

What Are Some Signs Of Cymophobia?

Cymophobia can manifest itself in different ways in different people. Some may suffer from panic attacks when faced with waves, while others may just feel an intense discomfort or dislike of beaches, rivers, and other bodies of water.

When someone’s cymophobia manifests, it can be terrifying for them and everyone nearby. The cymophobic individual will go to great lengths to avoid the source of their fear, no matter how illogical or impractical it is. This can cause difficulties in terms of enjoying life – the cymophobic individual may avoid the beach completely even though he or she gets great enjoyment of it otherwise. They may also avoid boats or anything having to do with large bodies of water.

Although this fear is related to thalassophobia (fear of open water or fear of the sea) in some aspects, it is still considered a distinct phobia.

How Can Someone Get Help For Cymophobia?

If cymophobia is causing significant distress in someone’s life, he or she may want to seek professional help. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be effective in helping cymophobes face their fears and learn to cope with them. In some cases, medication may also be prescribed to help ease symptoms.

Cognitive behavioral therapay (CBI) has been proven to help many individuals with many different phobias.  The therapist works with the cymophobic individual to help them understand their fear and how it is impacting their life. They also help the person understand that their fears are irrational, usually by replacing negative automatic thoughts with more positive, rational ones.

Exposure therapy is also a common treatment for cymophobia. This basically entails exposing the cymophobic person to gradually increasing doses of the thing that they fear. This can be done with waves, boats, and other bodies of water.

Some cymophobes may find it helpful to read about other people’s experiences with cymophobia online, such as Reddit or other online forums. This may help them feel less alone with this issue.

Some people have successfully overcome their cymophobia by doing a combination of the things mentioned above. It is important to find what works best for you and to keep trying even if it’s difficult.

If you’re trying to learn to surf and you have mild cymophobia, it’s entirely possible to ease your way into the ocean and overcome your fears.

Hayley Gordon

Hayley Gordon has been surfing for over 20 years. Riding both shortboards and longboards, she's traveled the world to surf but mainly sticks to her two home locations of San Diego and Long Island.

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