- 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.
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.
There are many rational things to worry about when we contemplate our own death—perhaps foremost among those is the concern about how our surviving loved ones will cope emotionally and materially without us. But many of our worst fears about death are less realistic and based more on how we imagine death to be. This article is about those unfounded fears.
There’s no reason to expect that the actual process of dying is any worse physically than what you or other still-living people have already previously experienced.
For most people, the terror of the actual process of dying probably involves a fear of physical pain. It also probably involves fearful incomprehension of the seemingly mysterious process by which the consciousness that is our “self” is extinguished, or fades away.