Overcoming the Irrational Fear of Death

By Michael Corbitt posted 05-09-2021 23:02


It’s perfectly natural for you to worry more about your health as you start to age. It is also common to worry about the death of friends or family members. While some fear of death is healthy because it makes you more cautious, in some people fear of death can reach unhealthy proportions. 

It can be an irrational fear that consumes your life. You may experience extreme anxiety, distress and dread. Overcoming this fear of death may involve learning how to talk about your concerns and how to refocus your thoughts. 

Symptoms of the condition

The fear of death is not a clinically recognized condition and so there are no tests to diagnose it. The symptoms you experience can offer a greater understanding of what you’re experiencing. 

Fear of death is a psychological condition with a number of different symptoms. You may experience severe anxiety and panic attacks. This is usually accompanied by nausea, sweating, dizziness, heart palpitations, stomach pain and sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. 

Fear of death may also trigger emotional symptoms such as anger, sadness, avoidance of family and friends, guilt, agitation, and consistent worry. Interactive Counselling in Kelowna offers counselling for people dealing with these kinds of emotional symptoms. Sharing what you experience with a therapist can help you to learn to cope with your feelings when they occur. 

What are the risk factors?

The fear of death is so common that it has been the topic of many research projects. There is even a field of study called thanatology that examines human reactions to death and dying. Death anxiety often peaks in someone’s 20s and fades as they get older. 

Both men and women can experience it in their 20s but women also often experience it in their 50s. Individuals with physical health problems may experience more fear and anxiety when they contemplate their future. 

Types of death fears

There are many different types of death fears. Some people fear pain and suffering, while others fear the unknown. The fact that death is something over which you have no control is what makes some people fear it. Another common fear is what will happen to your loved ones if you die. 

Treating the fear of dying

Talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are both commonly used by therapists when treating patients with a fear of dying. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on finding practical solutions that can put your mind at ease when you experience thoughts of death. 

Breathing techniques and other relaxation techniques such as meditation can help to reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety when they occur. 

Medication may be necessary for a period but it is not a long-term solution. Medication usually works best in combination with therapy. 

What’s the outlook?

If your worries about dying turn to panic and feel too extreme for you to handle on your own, you shouldn’t hesitate to seek help. A therapist can help you to learn ways to cope with the fear and teach you how to redirect your feelings. Asking for assistance can help you to learn some healthy ways to cope and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed by your fear. 

Embrace a positive attitude to death

Living your life with a fear of death can adversely affect your health and it is important to embrace positive, healthy thinking around the topic. It helps if you can recognize yourself as part of the cycle of life and feel grateful for the time you have to live. It may help you to read available literature and self-help guides that address the topic of death.