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Avatar universal

How do you deal with Thanatophobia

Lately I have been having problems with weird feelings during the day,I think it's medication related,but because of these feelings I have become overwhelmed with fearing death.I'm only 39yrs old and I'm afraid to sleep thinking I won't wake up.The fear of death everytime I have a weird feeling almost causing myself to have a panic attack.I have medication for panic attacks,but don't like to take them unless I have to,but they still don't get me past thinking about death.Is there anything out there that would help me overcome or at least help me cope with it.Thanks.
25 Responses
652415 tn?1224243326
I had the same fear when I was a very young child, had severe panic attacks at night, not knowing what they were, & somehow outgrew it...temporarily. Now it appears as though it has come back with a vengence, even to the point of causing major panic attacks. I have tried therapy & anti-anxiety meds, but for some reason this fear is very deep seated with me. I have noticed however that when I am busy & have quite a lot to accomplish, my fear lessens. It doesn't disappear but it lessens to the point that I can function again. Yet it is always at the back of my mind. I have yet to find someone who can tell me the cause of this particular phobia...right now, I am just grateful that it's not as intense as it was before. I know it sounds stupid, but keep busy...preoccupy your mind with other things...it's the only thing that has worked for me. I wish you the best & while it saddens me that this fear has you in its grip as well, I am glad to know I am not alone in how I feel. Please take care...
Avatar universal
if you die in your sleep.. you wont know it... makes sense.  

i have the same fear.... everytime i have a weird feeling.. i think.. omg. this is it.  it comes and goes with me.. when i was younger.. it was CONSTANT.    my parents allowed me to read anything... see anything... watch anything.. and for a while.. i was obsessed with death.... i used to watch those faces of death tapes.. and others as well... when my mother had a tumor removed from her brain.. after the procedure.. they overdosed her on demerol.. and she was flatlined for over  5 minutes... she came home afterward and told me all about what "death" was like.. well. it wasnt death.. because she was saved..lol... i try my best to block it all out.. but.. since i lost my 9 week old son and dressed his lifeless body in the funeral home.. i dwell on it alot... i think everyone is afraid of death.. when you find yourself obsessing about it.. or feeling strange.. immediately do something else... get angry... make yourself do soemthing else... watch something FAST.. like.. get online and google happy faces... look at MANY.. in a short amount of time.. keep looking.. divert your brain.... tap your foot, tap your hand.. and shake your head up and down all at the same time... do things that totally preoccupy your body and mind...

i think the first step for me.. was just to accept those feelings.. and .. then  i went onto preoccupying myself with other stimulating things...

wish i could give you a big hug.. you arent the only one.. know that.. you are not alone..
I'm curious to know what did your mom say it was like ? Death being flatlined for 5 minutes ? I too died and was saved but I never stressed it or thought much about it when I was 17 this happened die to a car accident I had doing 100 mph before I crashed on a city block I took out two redefine piles about 3 parking meters and the went through a supermarket brick wall but yet I somehow lived and was back in the driver seat within three months after being released from hospital I had a traumatic brain injury and never one feared or stressed the fact we are all guaranteed death as we all guaranteed the irs getting they're money lol anyway is love to know what your mothers experience was like ????
Avatar universal
Im in my early teens, and i have a big fear of death. Im not sure its an actual phobia, because i dont have panic attacks. I get scared and i can hardly sleep at night. I hate being alone in the house because i dont know whats around. I cant watch horror films because people are killed and it stays in my mind for years. I cant listen about/or see blood. I hate the not knowing how and when it will happen. Will it hurt? Will it be soon? So you probably think im just pathetic, but i sort of know how you feel. Just watch a funny film, or chat to a friend. Do some sports, or listen to music. These are all pretty childish probably, but i do these, to take my mind off it.
Avatar universal
I'm 16 years old, male, and I feel my life is being ruined by my constant, horrific fear of death. I'd love to know how to find out if i'm actually a 'thanatophobe' but I'm pretty sure I am.

It's not just the passing away and not being alive, it's the eternity of nothingness...which never ends...that scares the **** out of me.

I feel trapped most of the day and night, and never feel like I can escape it. My religious beliefs help to an extent, but the fear is still there. I've tried using the 'reassure and distract' method - whereby you tell yourself...'you shouldn't fear it when it's certain - it will happen, and then immediately watch TV or distract myself by singing or something. I don't feel I can tell anyone about this and it just scares me so much.

I need help, I just don't know where to get it. I'm starting to get panic attacks whenever I think of this fear - which is quite a lot, and I've been plagued with this fear for months - I know I will die, that's a fact. I want to overcome the fear of it ....BADLY.
When you said the eternity of nothingness, I just thought 'That's me, omg, everything he is saying'. I'm your age as well and that same fear constantly surrounds me. It's not just me dying though, it's  a fear of people I know and am close with dying as well. I just think we need to try and not think about it and occupy ourselves. Then again, I was studying science just ten minutes ago.
I'm almost 20 and your story is the one I relate closest with. I go to sleep watching tv. My religious beliefs help to an extent, but I get so caught up in the technicalities of it all. It's comforting to know there are people that think exactly as I do though. The weirdest thing too... It only happens for me at night or when I'm showering. I know that sounds crazy, but I can think about it during the day and not be scared.
One comment in 2009, another is 2015, one in 2016 and now this one in 2017. I feel close to your story the most. I have been dealing with this since I was 8 years old. I am now 35 and I can't take it anymore. I feel trapped, the nothingness is scary as hell. I can't wrap my head around it. I wake up at night with panic attacks, and now it happens during the day as well. please help !
480448 tn?1426952138
You are a very young person with a lifetime ahead of you.  Some people get stuck on death, and a lot of people with anxiety disorders pick this topic as something to worry about at some point, it is totally normal.

You said you do have religion.  Perhaps turning to your religion a bit more would help to ease your worries?  Also, while of course everyone will die some day.....it is something you simply CANNOT worry about.  I know, easier said than done.  But, truthfully, is worrying about it going to allow you to avoid it?  Certain phobias we can work through b/c if we harness our anxiety, we can essentially stop the fear and avoid whatever situation that scares us.  Unfortunately, with this topic, you cannot change the inevitible.  But, you are talking something that won't happen for literally DECADES.  

I don't know if you have, but if not...get yourself into some talk therapy.  That is the best way to conquer something like this. Many times, this kind of fear will fade away on its own, but if you feel it is interfering in your daily life, then it is time to consider getting some help.

Also, this kind of fear is not at all ununsual for someone your age....you are going through a lot of changes, becoming a young adult, realizing that life is full of responsibilities, and unlike when you were a child, you now have the ability to fully understand the concept of death, which can be frightening when you start to think about it.

One day you will look back and maybe even laugh about how fearful you were about this.  ANYone who says they AREN'T afraid to some level of dying is fooling themselves.  We, as humans fear the unknown, and that is a biggie.

Get yourself into therapy, or increase the frequency of your therapy visits, and perhaps turn to your religion a bit more...that is a great source of comfort for those who believe.  Maybe talk with your priest?  Minister?
Avatar universal
Thankyou for replying.

Yes, my religion is a great source of comfort and I turn to it, but at times it only delays the fear...it comes back quite quickly.

I know I should talk to a therapist and maybe my minster, and the interesting thing is that my dad is the minister of the church, and also does counselling part time...I just find it difficult to talk to him about it for some reason.
480448 tn?1426952138
That's not unusual at all.  He's your dad.  Most people are more comfy talking with a 3rd party person who is detatched from you personally.

You could always try to talk to a therapist.
Avatar universal
I totally understand what you are going through and it seems to be never ending, looping through your mind.
For me it had alot to do with a depression medication I was on for over five years, which I suddenly decided to stop taking.
I went through the withdrawl effects and when it was over, I felt okay for a week or so.
Now I have this new phobia which I never had before and it's driving me crazy.
I try to sleep at night and then when I get up, there it is again.
The anxiety, fear and panic.
Keeping myself busy does help me to focus on other things.
I am even afraid to go to bed, thinking I might not wake up.
I am a believer in life after death but there is always this "what if?" in the back of my mind.
An eternity of just oblivion scares the hell out of me too.
Not just that but I would want to be with the people I loved and cared about the most to be with me.
And if there is nothing after this, then its just very sad.
But I think there is a reason we are all here, right now.
Maybe finding someone with similar interests who is a round the same age could be a good idea too?
I am back on my meds but it helps me only a little bit with the depression and not the anxiety.
I just don't want death to be a permanent ending, when life is so short to do the things we want to do.
I am 27/m and I have been having these terrible fears for weeks now.
Emotionally I sometimes find it hard to hold myself together.
I never used to feel this way until I quit those pills and it may have screwed me up.
I just want to go back to feeling how I was before all this, when I felt alive and apart of things.
Now I feel disconnected, cold and alone.
I get comfort from reading thr Bible before I go to bed, at least that gives me a piece of mind.
Also, all those people who experience near death and come back saying they saw other beings, relatives and friends, they cannot all be crazy.
This fear has brought me to the darkest point in my life but I will get out of it no matter what!
There is always hope.
Avatar universal
I also have this fear of dying ALL the time. It causes me to be anxious and irritable. Every little ache or pain that I have I'm scared it's something that will cause me to die, when I'm driving to or from work I'm scared I'll get into a car accident and die, I'm scared to fall asleep at night....etc. I seriously thought I was the only one that had these thoughts. It's very scary and I've noticed things that trigger it more is when a family member dies or if I see someone my age (31) in the obituaries I start thinking about it. It gets very overwhelming. I'm going to talk to my Dr. about it and see what my options are. It's not a very fun way to go through life. Brings a whole new meaning to 'live like you're dying'. Good luck to all of you and if I learn any little tricks or ways to avoid this thinking....I'll be sure to share.
Avatar universal
Someone please, please help me! I've been trying to sleep but I can't! I am a 12yr old female with self-diagnosed thanatophobia... The Existential death anxiety. I try to think of other things to get calm but it never works. I have panic attacks in bed and want to scream! I cry to myself and want to go to my mom, but don't want to wake her . I know I have a long life but, that doesn't help me. This is worst in bed not being able to sleep and then I start to panic.. I've been known to have a few panic attacks in my family but there isn't anything they can do about it, I have had this for about maybe a year or 2.. I so hope that this doesn't get to me while at school because I might start to break down and scream... I feel trapped sometimes and don't know what to do!! Please, you are all nice people and know what I am going through.. Help me out please?? My teeth are trembling...
Avatar universal
Hi Agnesiris (and anyone else in her position),

I'm 17 years old and the fear of death has interfered with my life for a while. Your symptoms are almost identical to mine and I completely understand what you're going through. The first thing I would say is that you should definitely tell your mom about this even if its the middle of the night.  I was afraid to talk to mine as well for a while but when I did it immediately felt better.  I know you're young and that makes it even more difficult to seek out a therapist or a 3rd party to talk to but maybe if you start by telling a family member, they can guide you to more professional help.  Looking into books on the topic and advice on other websites/forums should help as well.  Also, if you feel a panic attack happening or you feel really sad- don't try to pretend the feeling is not there or distract yourself.  Let it happen.  Panic attacks normally can't intensely last more than 20 minutes and there is usually a period of relief after the attack. If you hold it in, the feeling will just grow overtime and become unbearable. Breathing exercises and meditation can really help. Finally, don't feel embarrassed about what you're going through or feel like you can't tell others.  While fear of death (and the unknown in general) is normal, having it turn into a phobia (i.e. not being able to function normally for a long period of time due to it) is a much more intense problem.  Think of it this way: when someone breaks their leg they don't just keep it to themselves and say that other people with bruises are walking just fine- they tell people and go seek help.  Their lives are directly affected by something they cannot control and then they get treatment for it and move on with their lives. Unfortunately due to a lot of stereotyping and stigma surrounding mental illnesses, other people who have never gone through what you're going through may be quick to judge. Don't listen to them and stay strong because at the end of the day they are not the ones who have to deal with what you're dealing with.

Best of luck,

As far as some links you can check out:
* breathing exercises *

* meditation*

*some philosophy and quotes*
-> the last few sentences of this really struck me:
"Ignoring death leaves us with a false sense of life’s permanence and perhaps encourages us to lose ourselves in the minutiae of daily of life. Obsessive rumination on death, on the other hand, can lead us away from life. Honestly coming to terms with one’s death involves reflection on its significance in one’s life, and thinking about the larger values that give life its meaning. In the end, it is useful to think about death only to the point that it frees us to live fully immersed in the life we have yet to live."
Avatar universal
Im 12 yrs old and have been self-diagnosed with thantaphobia. The fear of death haunts me. Each night before I sleep I wonder what will happen to me after I die. Will I be nothing? I dont know how to tell my parents or anyone close to me. I dont want them to worry about me. My parents have been going through so much of stress due to their own company. It will just add extra stress and I really dont know how to tell them. One of my moms friends son who was 30 yrs old died in a freak accident. a few nights later I had gotten a dream of him. I was freaked and from that point on I have been thinking/fearing death. Im planning to talk to my school counselor and i am gonna make sure that no one knows. I just dont know what to do. I cry and think wht would happen to my family if i died. I need help!
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