Do You have a Death Phobia? You Have Thanatophobia
It's pretty normal to be afraid of death. But, when the fear begins to impact your daily life, it stops being healthy and starts to become a phobia: Thanatophobia, to be exact.
So, what is Thanatophobia? Well, in short, it is the fear of death. However, it actually encompasses a wide range of fears throughout dying. Some are afraid of what initially causes their death, others the actual process of dying, and for some, the afterlife.
If you find yourself worrying about death often (whether your own or a loved one's), you should ask yourself whether it seems healthy or not.
The American Psychiatric Association does not officially recognize Thanatophobia yet, but it still considers it an aspect of generalized anxiety.
Thanatophobia is also referred to as thantophobia, fear of the unknown, dying phobia, fear of cremation, and fear of entombment (the fear of being buried). Sometimes these can be sparked by other phobias. For example, if someone has extreme arachnophobia (the fear of spiders), they may fear dying if they ever were to run into a spider.
Sometimes Thanatophobia can be confused for depression, bipolar disorder, or ADHD; however, these are not the same.
Why does thanatophobia occur?
When we are young, we learn that life is precious because it is finite and we are mortal beings. While some take this information to be positive and spend their lives making the most of it, others begin to live in fear of dying.
There are both internal and external causes for Thanatophobia. Internal causes are when there are certain preconceived notions of death, or when one overthinks, while external causes are effects of previous experiences.
There are said to be six attributes of death anxiety: "emotion related to fear of disappearance, cognitive acceptance of death, experiential that death anxiety is not part of one's conscious experience, development stage with identity crises affecting the degree of death anxiety, sociocultural shaping such as western societies concealing the sick and elderly accompanied by denial of death and source motivation affecting psychological status of the individual."
Is death anxiety all anxiety?
Could it be possible that all forms of anxiety actually stem from our fear of dying? Some psychologists argue they might.
Because humans are the only species that seem to be aware of their own mortality, they are the only ones who can actively be afraid to die. While other stressors may occur, often they are centered around the knowledge of our short existence. For example, many of us are afraid of being single for too long, but it may actually be the concept of dying alone that scares us. Alternatively, some are afraid of not making enough money or being successful enough in their jobs, but many believe the root cause of these sensations are actually not being able to afford care in their last hours, having enough money to leave for their family when their die, or not leaving a legacy in general.
Read on to learn more about Thanatophobia, the fear of death, and how you should be aware of it.