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diving anxiety

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Jul 29, 2003
Hi. I am a new diver. I have been experiencing a claustrophobic feeling while diving. Is that normal? Will that feeling ever go away?
Are you Scuba or Freediving???

Ask yourself "Why are you feeling this way???"

Others can follow up with more if we knew more specifics...
Are you newly certified or are you getting back in the water after not diving for awhile?
I'm newly certified. Others from my class and at my experience level do not seem to be having these anxiety problems.
Each person responds differently to the experience of diving.

Why did you get into diving in the first place? That is something you need to ask yourself - and be honest. Many get into diving because a spouse or friend wants them to instead of the individual wanting to learn to dive - so they feel pressured into becoming certified.

What kind of conditions are you diving in - this makes a huge difference in the amount of anxiety one experiences? Cold, murkey water tends to cause this problem more than warm clear water like in the Carribean. Are the current's you dive in very strong?

What you are experiencing is felt by other newly certified divers, you just happen to be exhibiting it more than some others. As you become more experienced, you will find this level of anxiety lessens dramatically. Always try to dive within your limits - and if need be, dive in lesser conditions. And I am sure that you can participate in other classes to help you get even more comfortable with yor gear in the water - at pool sessions, etc

Remember - Scuba isn't a race - take your time and you will begin to experience less anxiety as you dive more.
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I appreciate your responses. I always loved the water, shark week, etc. That's why I decided to get into diving. I live in Maryland and have only dove in local quarries (cold water, low visibility). I am hoping that, with more experience, I'll become more relaxed under the water.
As a follow up - Physical conditioning also plays a key role in how comfortable you are in the water. Far too many recreational scuba divers are couch potato's when instead they should be exercising regularly. Proper fitting equipment will help to reduce anxciety - Rental equipment always seems to heighten a new divers anxiety since it typically doesn't fit as well as your personal gear would.

I'll try to come up with more as I think about this further...
I have a strong interest in helping new divers get comfortable in the water (I am a certified Freedive Instructor and PADI Rescue Diver)

Diving is as much a mental challange as a physical challange. By understanding what it is you are doing, you will be more relaxed.

Typically - people who experience this kind of anxiety have an underlying fear of dying. Plain and simple - it could happen. But as long as you manage as much as you can in the diving process - your chances for this happening drop dramatically. It's the inexperienced divers who think they have to prove something that typically end up severly injured or dead.

I would also recommend that you discuss these issues with your certifying instructor - they are there to help you become a better diver - they will want to know that you are experiencing these issues and, if they are good instructors, they will want to help you overcome the anxiety you are experiencing.

Good luck and welcome to DeeperBlue!!!
Welcome to a great website and forum.
When I first started scubadiving, I was scared S###less! I could barely swim and I was not in great shape. I agree with Cliff that being fit will help. Learn how to control your breathing, and dive shallow. Work your way down. My first two years of scubadiving was mostly in 10 metres of cold water. I eventually got to the point (after a few more years) where I was doing 60 metre dives in the dark and completely confident.
Now I do those depths without tanks! The point is that you can get there if you take your time, practice emergency drills at the beginning of every dive, and dive at your comfort level. Listen to your gut as you begin to challenge yourself. Only you know how much of that nervous tension is a healthy reminder to be safe or a warning to not do the dive at all.
Become a good swimmer if you aren't already, and take a Rescue course- a course that I believe should be mandatory. It will increase your level of confidence greatly.
Most importantly relax and enjoy it.
Erik Y.
Do you know if you're claustrophobic? It could be a mild case triggered by all the gear, the mask limiting vision and limited vis underwater, etc. In my line of work that's one of the first things we check for in a new prospect.
I am not usually claustrophobic. It's good to know that other new divers have experienced the same feelings. Thanks for the info!
Numero one- ease up on yourself... nearly everyone that dives, both newly certified and old timer has times in the beginning and as they progress where the whole idea just seems to go against their mind's better judgements. I mean, how long did it take us to remove ourselves from the water and now we want to go back? :confused: I'll cop to not feeling real warm and fuzzy in new places at first regardless of the gear being second nature, but if I take it slow and concentrate on being safe, it's all good.

The gear that you strap on and the tunnel-like vision that you have to get used to all contribute to a feeling of overburdened helplessness and you naturally want to pull the plug and bail. Don't sweat it. It is a learned process that will take not only your time but the time and careful monitoring/help of a buddy as well. You're ahead of the game in that you are certified. Next step is find a dive club in your area. The dive shop you learned at will probably have a list or know of them. There you can meet up with all kinds of like mindeed people that have the same and greater levels of experience as do you and they'll be stoked to have your interest. Next thing you know, someone'll come along and ask you questions. Karma. :cool:
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