“Thanatophobia,” commonly referred to as “death anxiety,” is a form of anxiety that involves a fear of one’s own death or the dying process. While it is not defined as a distinct disorder, it may be linked to depression and anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorders and panic attacks, and illness anxiety disorders (previously referred to as “hypochondriasis”). Along with experiences of intense fear or anxiety about the inevitability of death, those suffering from thanatophobia may also have fear of separation, fear of loss, and/or worry about leaving loved ones behind. While we may all have some anxiety about death, intense fear of death that persists and interferes with daily activities should be treated.
There are no tests that can help doctors diagnose thanatophobia, but a list of your symptoms will help your doctor get a better understanding of what you’re experiencing. Signs and symptoms include anxiety, dread, and distress. Treatment focuses on learning to refocus the fears and to talk about your feelings and concerns. Plains Area Mental Health has compassionate therapists to help. Call one of our offices today to schedule an appointment or take our free on-line assessment on this website.
P.S. Treatments for thanatophobia include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychotherapy, exposure therapy, and relaxation techniques.