, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 398-421
Date: 07 Oct 2012

Anxiety and Panic in Recreational Scuba Divers

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Scuba diving is a high-risk sport; it is estimated that 3 to 9 deaths per 100 000 divers occur annually in the US alone, in addition to increasing numbers of cases of decompression illness each year. However, there has been a tendency within the diving community to de-emphasise the risks associated with scuba diving. While there are numerous factors responsible for the injuries and fatalities occurring in this sport, there is general consensus that many of these cases are caused by panic. There is also evidence that individuals who are characterised by elevated levels of trait anxiety are more likely to have greater state anxiety responses when exposed to a stressor, and hence, this sub-group of the diving population is at an increased level of risk. Efforts to demonstrate that selected interventions such as hypnosis, imagery, meditation and relaxation can reduce stress responses in anxious divers has not yielded consistent findings, and there is a need for systematic research dealing with the efficacy of selected intervention strategies.