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Thanatophobia: Learn how you can overcome the fear of dying and live your life to the fullest

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I know that when it comes to the matter of death people shy away from it, but it is a reality that is undeniable.

Truth be told, there is no one who is never afraid to die. Even the one who is begging for death is still afraid to die only that the present condition of his or her mind seems to suspend the fear of death.

There are some persons who wish to die but would prefer to die in a certain way. For instance, you may want to actually die, but you may may not wish to die by gun shot.

Thanatophobia

Thanatophobia is a disorder characterized by an extreme fear of dying. Because necrophobia and thanatophobia are similar phobias, many people get the two confused. People struggling with thanatophobia may not be afraid of dead bodies, coffins, and can even attend funerals. Their fear isn't centered around the death of others but the possibility of dying themselves. People with thanatophobia have related symptoms like the fear of flying and also the aging process.

There might also be an underlying fear of being buried or cremated after death. In a medical setting, thanatophobia is called "death anxiety " and requires behavioral therapy to help restore a client's trust and ego integrity.

Symptoms of Thanatophobia:

Thanatophobia can cause frequent panic attacks, dizziness, sweating, and nausea. It can also bring about some unique physical, mental, and emotional challenges like:

Hot and cold temperature sensitivity.

Feeling as if one is choking.

Seeking out ways to stay young/immortal.

Inability to distinguish reality from fantasy.

Obsessively imagining ways that you might die.

Severe emotional symptoms.

Religiosity and death anxiety often go hand-in-hand. Intense fear of death can also cause sufferers to avoid family and friends as well as places where they fear they might die.

Causes of Thanatophobia

1. Age: Surprisingly, young people have more issues with death anxiety than the elderly. Studies show that people under the age of 20 are most at risk of developing a fear of dying. In fact, the anxiety surrounding death usually fades as we age. The only exception to this is with some women. Studies suggest that some women will have spikes of thanatophobia that appear after 50.

2. Traumatic Event: Those who have experienced death-related, traumatic events are more likely to develop death anxiety. For example, a person who witnessed a stranger die in a car wreck might begin to worry about dying themselves.

3. Parents Near Death: Having a parent that is dying increases the chance of a person developing their fear of dying. As they help their parents move through the process of death, their fear of death may increase.

4. Personal Health: People with chronic illnesses are more at risk of developing an extreme fear of death. Forced to face their future, issues with health can aggravate underlying fears about the afterlife and lead to a full-blown death phobia.

Overcoming Thanatophobia:

1. Seek Help from a Professional: Hiring a professional to help is usually the first step. Because of the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of death phobias, those suffering shouldn't walk the journey to recovery alone. Finding a qualified therapist with experience dealing with phobias can be the difference between failure and success.

2. Try Therapy: One thing your counselor might try is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This tried-and-true treatment regimen has been used to people overcome depression, anxiety, and phobias of many different types.

3. Explore Spirituality: Several different studies have shown that those who have strong faith and belief systems are far less likely to suffer from fear of death or dying.

4. Explore Philosophy: Spirituality isn't for everyone. If you find that belief in an afterlife or a higher-power to be a little superstitious, it doesn't mean that you need to be without comfort. For thousands of years, philosophers have been talking about the topic of death with all of the vigor of religious thinkers.

For example, while trying to calm a friend who was afraid of death, the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus wrote, "Death is nothing to us because when we exist death is not and when death exists we are not."

5. Make Death a Part of Your Life: The ultimate goal of death phobia-related therapy isn't to rid you of all thoughts of death, but to stop these ideas from negatively impacting your life. Instead of seeing death as a negative event, you will see it as positive.

6. Prepare for Your Parting: One basis of fear of death or dying is lack of control. Because we know that we will have little control over how or when we will leave this world, we feel anxious. A way to combat this is by grabbing the reigns and taking control of what you will leave behind. 

Conclusively, it is advisable, as a way to lose your obsession with death and dying, to focus on the here and now. Therapy can help you let go of some of the preoccupations that come along with a fear of death. Then, you will be able to turn your focus to what you can do to live your life to the fullest. Eating right, exercising, taking care of your mental and physical health, and focusing on things you enjoy can help you overcome your obsession with fear and enjoy the present.

One of the best ways to move this step from thought to action is by creating a 'bucket list.' By focusing on the things you want to accomplish instead of dying, you can shift your life to a place of happiness instead of anxiety.

Source: opera.com
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