Phobia of not having water

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

So I have this annoying phobia that if I don’t have a water bottle or water source by me at all times I start to panic. It’s really bad in gym class becaus the coaches hate it and so does my band director. I had to go in an ambulance in January because of an anxiety attack and dehydration which started the phobia, it got worse when I saved my brother from choking. I have few friends and the whole school day only see them at lunch and then don’t talk to anyone the rest of the day. I really want to get rid of this phobia! Please help.

A. That anxiety attack really, really scared you! Now you are so worried that you’ll get dehydrated again that the worry has become the problem! A normal fear has gone haywire. Fortunately, phobias can be treated. Behavioral therapy has been found to be especially helpful. Often the therapist uses a technique called “progressive desensitization.” You are gradually exposed to your fear more and more so that you learn to manage it.

Another method emphasizes relaxation techniques. Being relaxed is incompatible with fear. By learning to relax when you find yourself without water, you can calm yourself and remind yourself that you can wait, that water is probably readily available once you have time or opportunity to get it, and that the fear is irrational. Hypnotherapy is still another technique that many people have found helpful for getting free of phobias.

I suggest you ask your parents to help you find a therapist who specializes in phobias. If you commit to the treatment, I’m pretty sure you’ll learn to overcome the phobia in a short time.

Meanwhile, your lack of friends is probably not related to the phobia — unless you are so focused on getting water that you aren’t much fun to be around. You need to do something to increase your circle of friends. I suggest you consider joining a team or another kind of extracurricular activity so that you can get to know more people – and they can get to know you. Another route to finding friends is to volunteer. Many kids get to know other people by volunteering to help manage a sports team or by assisting in the office.

Friends don’t happen by magic. That’s why it’s called “making” friends. And – btw – there are lots of other kids who want friends as much as you do. Be on the lookout for other nice people who seem to be alone a lot. Your’re all walking around hoping someone will “friend” you. Someone needs to make the first move. Why not you??

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 May 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). Phobia of not having water. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/05/04/phobia-of-not-having-water/