Understanding Thanatophobia Anxiety of Death


Thanatophobia (death anxiety): Symptoms and Treatment

Death is a natural part of life. It is inevitable, and we all have to go through it. However, there are some people who are more sensitive to the idea of death than others. They suffer from a condition called thanatophobia which is also known as death anxiety or fear of dying.

This condition can be debilitating for the person suffering from it, as well as for their loved ones. There are many symptoms that one can experience when they have this condition, and they vary in severity depending on the individual. The most common symptom is an increase in heart rate when they think about death or dying. Some people also experience panic attacks when they think about their own mortality and how it will affect their loved ones after they die, while others may develop post-traumatic stress disorder even though they were never exposed to any traumatic event in the past - just thinking about death was enough to trigger these symptoms in them. 

The good news is that there are ways you can overcome this fear of dying and live a full, happy life.The fear of dying is an intense fear that people often feel as they approach the end of their life. This is usually a natural occurrence, and it stems from a person's profound concern about death and how it will affect others after they die. People often feel this way because they are afraid that when they lose control of their body, everything their loved ones have worked for will go to waste or cease to exist if something were to happen to them. This fear of dying is usually seen as a symptom of an underlying fear of abandonment, loss and/or death in general.

Thanatophobia Symptoms

Some people fear death more than anything else. It is a natural thing to want to avoid pain and suffering, but some people go so far as to fear their own death. When this fear becomes an obsession and takes over your life, it can be classified as a mental illness called thanatophobia or sometimes known as morbid terror of death.

Thanatophobia is an anxiety disorder that causes the sufferer to avoid anything related to death, including funerals, cemeteries, hospitals and even the word “death” itself. It can be difficult for someone with this disorder to lead a normal life because they are constantly worrying about their own mortality. They may also experience intense panic attacks when they think about dying or when something triggers the memory of a loved one who has died.


  •  Fear of being near or in contact with someone who is dead
  •  Fear of going near hospitals or cemeteries
  •  Fear of death
  •  Feeling sick or sick to your stomach when you think about death
  •  Feeling that you might die soon if you don't avoid certain things
  •  Experiencing panic attacks when a loved one has died or when you think about death

A need for control, so that you can avoid triggers or situations where you feel vulnerable examples of triggers include funerals and hospitals. A person with this type of phobia may also experience nightmares related to death.

Thanatophobia Diagnosis and Treatment 

Many people are afraid of death. It is a natural human fear, but it can lead to various mental health problems if left untreated. People who have thanatophobia (fear of death) may experience depression, anxiety and other symptoms.

There are different ways to manage or treat thanatophobia. The most common methods are psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and medication.

Depending on the severity of the disorder and how long it has been present, one or more of these treatments are most likely to be effective. Medication is used to reduce symptoms such as extreme anxiety and panic attacks. Some medications that may be prescribed include benzodiazepines, tricyclic antidepressants, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps people reduce their avoidance of death-related situations in order to decrease the likelihood of experiencing more severe symptoms.

Psychotherapy is a structured conversation with a therapist who helps people establish the meaning of their fear and figure out ways to cope with it.

Three main forms of psychotherapy are utilized: cognitive behavioral therapy, rational emotive behavior therapy, and mentalization-based therapy.

1.  With cognitive behavioral therapy, clients learn to recognize thought patterns that lead to death-related thoughts and feelings as well as identifying strategies that can help decrease the occurrence. Their thoughts about death fall into two categories: cognitions about the meaning of death (e.g., "I will never see my mother again") and cognitions about particular fears related to their death (e.g., "I will die alone"). Lastly, cognitive behavioral therapy helps individuals establish a new relationship with death through self-help exercises. The types of exercises can vary from writing about hypothetical funerals and funeral processions as well as actively preparing for inevitable death by learning how one's estate will be handled after death. Although coping mechanisms such as social support and religious beliefs can provide some comfort, they are not effective in the long-term. They are then taught to identify ways to intervene, such as challenging their thoughts about death and building bridges with loved ones.

2. With rational emotive behavior therapy, clients are taught to control their reactions during times of stress in order to avoid the development of PTSD.

3. With mentalization-based therapy, clients are taught to recognize thoughts and feelings that are related to their disorders.

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