For centuries now, scientists and medical experts have been trying to find a way to beat death, but to no avail. In the end, the fact that death is inevitable to all sorts of life is a harsh truth mankind has learnt to accept. However, there are many among us who fear the idea of dying so violently that it affects their daily lifestyle to a wide extent.
If your fear of dying is as severe as to interrupting your lifestyle as well of the people around you, you might actually have the phobia of dying instead. This perpetual fear of dying in medical terms is known as Thanatophobia. Thanatophobia, rightly named after the Greek God of Death, is a very rare case that is most of the times triggered by external factors.
While religion is meant to be a place of comfort and homeliness to most people, it can still trigger the fear of dying in some scenarios. This could be because of the belief of having a life after death, where a persons acts on Earth will be rightfully justified in allocating them either to Heaven or Hell.
In other circumstances, the religious belief of not having any sort of life form after dying can also trigger a negative and rather uncomfortable approach to dying.
Signs and Symptoms
The fear of dying, also known as Thanatophobia, might not be because of death itself, but partly because of the unknown after death and the loss of control during ones process of dying. Thanatophobia is most of the times associated with the fear of the unknown circumstances a person might have to go through at a certain point of life. Some symptoms you might experience if you have Thanatophobia are-
Restlessness during random parts of the day whenever something morbid is mentioned
Heart palpitations and sweaty palms
Over-cautious behaviour whenever leaving your comfort zone
Shying away from religious sermons and rituals for the fact that it might relate to the chapter of dying
Panic attacks whenever thinking about the process of dying
Hot flushes, dizziness, dryness of the throat
Getting stomach cramps.
The symptoms and signs associated with the fear of dying might not be too detailed as different people react to the phobia in a variety of ways, however the most common symptom is restlessness. To make it easier for you to understand in simple terms, a person devoid of this phobia will not tire themselves (therefore feel excessively restless) out by worrying about the process of dying, unlike someone with the phobia.
Causes and Common Triggers
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, better known as OCD is actually a very common trigger associated with Thanatophobia. Most people suffering from the fear of dying already are patients with OCD. The compulsive reaction to overthinking the idea of dying gives rise to its impending fear, thus turning the natural fear of dying into a full blown phobia.
People with anxiety disorders or schizophrenia might also be prone to fearing the process of dying uncontrollably. Hallucinations are known to be side effects of the above mentioned disorders, therefore making it harder for the victim to separate imagination from reality. As a result, it leads the victim to compulsively fearing the act of dying, instead of fearing death itself.
Some other causes of Thanatophobia might also be prolonged panic disorders, hypertension and hyperventilation, post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), etc. Although rare, having only one or two of these disorders could result in the creation of this unfortunate phobia in a person.
Another range of causes and common triggers associated with this phobia is when the person in question or someone close to him or her is sick instead. When the cause of this fear is immediate sickness, it can most often be termed as a psychological distress.
As Thanatophobia falls under the category of anxiety most often characterized by the fear of one’s own death or the process of dying itself, it is therefore recognized medically and comes with its own treatments and therapies.
The most common treatment to this phobia is a Behavioural therapy. In this kind of a therapy, the therapist will talk to the patient and try to find out all the underlying causes. Although the process is very slow and might not seem authentic to many, it is actually the most effective way to help a person come out of that dark and scary phase of fearing death every day.
Another treatment is known as Exposure therapy. During this, the therapist will try to expose the patient to simulations of situations where the sense of this fear is heightened the most.
The process is completed in a controlled environment with the doctor being present to assist the patient at all times. The therapy is carried out in small amounts every day until the patient is able to control his or her own emotions successfully.
Other than that, doctors might also prescribe anti-depressants and muscle relaxants to help the patient sleep better during the night.
What Should You Do If You Have It?
Every person on this planet has one or two phobias. Being afraid of certain things is completely normal, however you should try to work on it as soon as possible, so that it does not prove to be a hindrance to your daily lifestyle.
If you think you have Thanatophobia, talk to someone you trust. Most of the times, patients with Thanatophobia prefer discussing their problems with religious scholars and counselors for the fact that they might understand concepts of death and dying better than psychologists and doctors. If that works for you as well, waste no time in seeking the help and assistance you deserve.
Locating the root of your problem is the main thing you should do, so try not to prolong getting assistance. There is no shame is being afraid of dying, so don’t feel embarrassed when asking for help for it.
As we mentioned before, Thanatophobia can also be caused due to other underlying disorder. Make sure to also keep your doctor or counselor updated on your current mental health so that they know what to prescribe you.
The fear of dying does not have to be the reason for you to stop having fun in life. Know that it is perfectly fine to be scared of the unknown, but you should not let it affect your life on a daily basis. Live in the moment with your loved ones, and leave the worrying for another day.
Also better check out Fear Of Driving: Amaxophobia