Thanatophobia is a form of anxiety characterized by a fear of one’s own death or the process of dying. It is commonly referred to as death anxiety.
Death anxiety is not defined as a distinct disorder, but it may be linked to other depression or anxiety disorders. These include:
post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD
panic disorders and panic attacks
illness anxiety disorders, previously called hypochondriasis
Thanatophobia is different from necrophobia, which is a general fear of dead or dying things, or things associated with death.
In this article, we take a close look at thanatophobia, or death anxiety, to explore the symptoms, causes, and treatments for this fear.
What is thanatophobia?
Someone may have a phobia about death or dying if they avoid situations involving these subjects.
In the Greek language, the word ‘Thanatos’ refers to death and ‘phobos’ means fear. Thus, thanatophobia translates as the fear of death.
Having some anxiety about death is an entirely normal part of the human condition. However, for some people, thinking about their own death or the process of dying can cause intense anxiety and fear.
A person may feel extreme anxiety and fear when they consider that death is inevitable. They may also experience:
fear of separation
fear of dealing with a loss
worry about leaving loved ones behind
When such fears persist and interfere with daily life and activities, this is known as thanatophobia.
In their most extreme, these feelings can stop people from conducting daily activities or even leaving their homes. Their fears center on things that could result in death, such as contamination or dangerous objects or people.
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