don’t do necessary health procedures because of fear of dying.
What is thanatophobia?
Thanatophobia is not an official psychological diagnosis. It is instead a popular term used to refer to a general fear of death and death anxiety.
If thinking of death is causing you serious symptoms, you might instead receive a diagnosis ofgeneralised anxiety disorder (GAD). This would mean your thoughts of death and dying are increasingly illogic and give you symptoms like heart palpitations, sweating, dizziness, stomach pain, and panic attacks. You might also feel agitated, moody, and withdraw from usual social activity.
Other mental health issues connected to a fear of dying
Thoughts of death and dying could also be connected toobsessive compulsive disorder. In this case, obsessive thinking about death then causes an ordered, repeated reaction, such as a series of tasks you do to ‘save’ yourself or those you love from death. This could be physical, like hand washing or ordering, or mental compulsions, like a checklist you go through repeatedly.
Is it really death you are afraid of?
Sometimes it’s not actually all things related to dying that is causing you upset. By identifying the actual trigger for your anxiety, you can shrink the cloud you sense hovering behind you, and deal with your phobia.
What part of death is scary for you? Is it one of the below, or a combination? Are you afraid of;
Or try giving yourself credit for what you have been and done.
A famous psychological model by psychologist Erik Ericksondictates eight stages of personal growth in a lifetime. It has, as a final stage, ‘ego integrity versus despair’. The idea is that if we reflect on our life’s ups and downs, what we did and didn’t achieve, and find acceptance, we gain integrity, and can avoid the despair that death can otherwise bring.
Educate yourself about death and dying
If it’s fear of the unknown that gives you death anxiety, there is nothing negative or morbid about educating yourself about death. Approach it as practical research.
Find a local ‘death cafe’ where people in the community talk frankly about death together.
Speak with a ‘death doula’, a person certified to help families and individuals navigate the death process.
Look at the ways different cultures and religions approach death.
Read about near death experiences.
Or even try a ‘virtual’ out of body experience (OBE). In an interesting iflimited small study, a group that was given the sensation of an out of body experience using virtual reality had a lowered fear of death, as opposed to the control group.