Thanatophobia takes the common fear of death and mortality to extremes as it becomes a daily and inescapable worry.

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Some of us have even more looming and extreme fears which begin to affect our everyday living. One example of such a phobia is thanatophobia, also known as the fear of death. Many of us, of course, are afraid of death, but for those of us who experience thanatophobia, this fear is more extreme and often anxiety-producing. Thanatophobia takes the common fear of death and mortality to extremes as it becomes a daily and inescapable worry.

None of us particularly wants to leave this world, especially without having made an impact or without having lived a meaningful life. A lot of fear about death boils down to missed opportunities or not having enough time. In particular, many of us seem to fear dying too young without having the opportunity to live a life we wanted, create, or make meaningful connections. This is entirely understandable as these are often the things that make life beautiful and exceptional.

While death is not an unreasonable fear, it is also something that cannot, at this point, be avoided. Often dwelling on death constantly can prevent us from living the life we seek; in a way, this too kills us too young as we spend moments panicking about a future instead of making most of our present moments.

Dying is also something we, in many ways, don’t know much about.

Living with a phobia like thanatophobia is no easy feat. It is not simple to stop thinking about the possibility of death and even more difficult to not fear the unknown ending. If we knew how to turn fear off just like that, we probably would have done so already. We all struggle to stop thinking about something on command, but this struggle intensifies when something is inevitable, like dying. This means we continually think about our fear, which leads us to be hypervigilant and often unable to relax.

What makes this particular phobia even more intrusive is the stress and anxiety that come along for the ride. Those who live with thanatophobia often live on high alert, continually staying vigilant for any signs of death. This takes a lot of energy and often doesn’t give our bodies proper time to rest from daily stressors. Thanatophobia has often been linked with hypochondria, heightened anxiety about one’s health. Individuals will take minor or commonplace health ailments to sign or signify less or eventual death in both cases. A common headache may become the warning sign of a stroke, an everyday cough morphs into the plague, and so on. Living with this kind of anxiety can be exhausting and leave us feeling on edge or irritable.

We may all think about and fear death now and then when a loved one passes away or as we age, but once this fear begins to affect your everyday life, thanatophobia emerges. In addition to feeling a persistent fear of death, some symptoms of thanatophobia may also include difficulty breathing, contacting faint, intense sweating, queasiness, shaking limbs, constant panic attacks, and other physical symptoms which can get in the way of everyday living and comfort.

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