What Is Selachophobia?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 04 September 2019
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Selachophobia is a medical term used for the fear of sharks. There may be a wide variety of contributing factors to the development of this fear, including traumatic events, genetic predispositions, and brain chemistry abnormalities. Symptoms of selachophobia may include increased heart rate, feelings of extreme anxiety, and shortness of breath. Treatment for this type of phobia varies for each individual and may include the use of prescription medications, various types of psychological therapy, or a combination of these treatment methods. Any specific questions or concerns about selachophobia in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

The occurrence of selachophobia is relatively common, although the severity of the phobia may range from mild to debilitating. In some cases, the fear of sharks develops due to a traumatic event, often involving an ocean, a shark itself, or another creature of the sea. Violent movies depicting sharks may also cause a person to develop selachophobia. Some studies have indicated a possible genetic predisposition to developing irrational fears, so this type of phobia may actually be hereditary in some instances.

Symptoms of selachophobia are similar to those of other phobias and may involve shortness of breath, feelings of immediate danger, and increased heart rate. Dry mouth, excessive sweating, and nausea may also occur. Those with severe cases of selachophobia may begin shaking uncontrollably or may have extreme difficulty carrying on a conversation or verbally expressing what they are feeling.


There are several possible treatment options for those who have a fear of sharks, although the method that works for one person may not necessarily work for another. Prescription medications may be used for those with an extreme phobia, although these drugs are normally used in conjunction with some form of psychological therapy in the hopes that the medication can be eventually discontinued.

Talk therapy may be beneficial for some patients with this type of fear, particularly those with an extreme phobia, although it may take several months or years to notice any positive effects. Exposure therapy involves gradually increasing exposure to the source of the phobia. This approach may not be ideal for those with severe cases of selachophobia. Behavioral therapy focuses on changing thought patterns concerning sharks and may be combined with other forms of therapy or anti-anxiety medications. A specialized doctor known as a psychiatrist can help the patient create an individualized treatment plan based on personal needs.



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