What It Really Means When You Dream About Drowning

If you've ever dreamed about drowning, you're familiar with the terrifying, crushing feeling of being hopelessly below the water's surface, unable to take a breath. Waking up from this type of dream can at once be an immense relief and incredibly startling; one moment you're flailing for your life in the depths of a watery abyss, and the next, you're sitting up in bed, looking at your bedroom walls, shaking. Or maybe in the dream you're witnessing another person drown? Maybe you even try to save them? Ever wonder what dreams like these actually mean? 

As it turns out, according to a study by Amerisleep, a full nine percent of the population admits to recurring dreams about drowning, making it a pretty common theme. And while many of us may be familiar with this type of dream, the reasons we're having them may be different, and the key to understanding them is in the details of the dream.

What different drowning dreams mean

While any dream involving drowning is frightening and upsetting, small details make a big difference when it comes to analyzing what message your dream may be sending you. According to DreamMoods.com, if you are the one drowning, the dream may mean that you are feeling overwhelmed by emotions. Water is often the element associated with emotion, so it makes sense that feeling as though we are literally underwater relates to intense emotions that feel threatening to our wellbeing. If, however, you witness someone else drowning, it can mean you are getting involved in something that is beyond your control, or that you are feeling a loss of your own identity.

Alternatively, if you dream of rescuing someone from drowning, it can suggest you have successfully acknowledged certain emotions symbolized by the drowning victim. If, however, you fail to save the person, it may mean you are frozen with fear, unable to tackle something, and it may be a good idea to consider what in your waking life is making you feel fearful and stuck (DreamMoods.com). Or, on an even darker note, if you dream of actively trying to drown another person, it may indicate that you are feeling emotions that you want to repress about certain events or people. For instance, if you dream about drowning an ex, it doesn't mean that you want to harm them; more likely it means you want to erase the feelings you have about them (DreamMeaning.net).