Fear of Rivers

It is not unheard of to listen to men in the autumn of their life speaking of times when they sat on the banks of a river and enjoyed fishing with their dad, grandpa, uncle or friends. They may have used a rope to swing out over the river and enjoy swimming. While those experiences may be less common today the fear of rivers has a growing group of followers. This fear is known as Potamophobia.

Many movies use rivers as a backdrop for their films. Even the Christmas classic “It’s A Wonderful Life” uses a river as a plot device to shift George Bailey’s thoughts from potential suicide to helping someone else. Yet for the general pristine nature of rivers they are still often feared.

What Causes Potamophobia?

It could be the potential of drowning.  It could be the potential of capsizing a boat. It could be the murky nature of some rivers. It could be the result of following orders from a parent as a child to ‘stay away from the water’. There can be an ingrained fear in the hearts of many with respect to a river, stream or waterfall.

After all there is a lot of water in a river and multiple obstacles or potential dangers underneath the surface.

It is logical to believe that some of the fear may result from the potential of an alligator in warmer climates. The fear may be due to observation or personal experience with rivers. In either case the end result can mean a debilitating fear among those who suffer with this phobia.

Symptoms of Potamophobia

The anxiety experienced with Potamophobia may be felt while driving over a bridge, along a riverside or even by walking near a river. The most prominent feature will be avoidance as the phobic individual works to keep as far away from a river as possible.

Other symptoms include…

  • Panic attack
  • Air hunger
  • Trembling
  • Nausea
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Feeling as if you are losing or have lost control

If you live in Arizona you may feel fairly confident in your ability to avoid rivers, but if you live in Minnesota this may be much more difficult to manage. In all cases it is in your best interest to seek help in overcoming your fear of rivers.

How to Overcome Potamophobia

A common thread in virtually all fears is that learning more factual information about the object of your fear can go a long way in learning how to deal with the fear. This is true because fear is often dependent on misinformation or even outright lies in order to exist and thrive.

By visiting with a therapist you may be able to uncover truths that can allow you to logically address your fear in a way that is not dependent on an emotional response.

Your family or friends can act as a support group as you work through therapeutic treatment.

The fear of rivers is also referred to as:

  • River fear
  • Fear of running water
  • Potamophobia
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