What Is Thanatophobia & How One Can Overcome It?

Last Update on February 11, 2021 : Published on January 24, 2021

What is Thanatophobia?

Thanatophobia is a term used to describe the fear of death or it can also be called a fear of dying process. It is a relatively complicated phobia as many people are afraid of dying or some cannot stop thinking about the act of dying.

Thanatophobia is derived from the two Greek words: Thanatos + Phobos. “Thanatos” means “Death” and “Phobos” means “fear” so the complete word translates Thanatophobia as fear of death.

The phobia is present amongst most of us but if it starts affecting your daily lifestyle and interferes with your working schedule, the phobia is present in its full state.

What are the Symptoms of thanatophobia?

This phobia is natural amongst aged beings as well as those fighting with terminal diseases. However, the fear of death combines with anxiety, dread, depression, and stress.

Other common symptoms include:

  • Panic attacks
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Agitation
  • Guilt
  • Excessive worrying

Apart from these symptoms, people go through other unique emotional and mental challenges like being sensitive to hot and cold temperature feel like choking, finding ways to become immortal, imagining ways to die and cannot differentiate between reality and fantasy.

Religion & Death

Religiosity and death often play together as different religions give distinct ideas about what happens after death. Their fear of the mistakes of the past and feeling of being condemned triggers anxious thoughts within themselves.

Personal religious beliefs sometimes become a challenge for therapists to cure thanatophobia. However, an individual going through difficulties must take advice from a medical therapist other than their religious leader.

Risk Factors Of Thanatophobia:

It is a known fact that everyone develops death anxiety at a certain point of time but some risk factors are more likely to be seen like:

1. Age: This is pretty surprising to know that young people under 20s are more likely to develop the fear of dying and this fear fades away as the person ages. This risk factor was an exception for women after the age of 50.

2. Traumatic Event: People who have gone through a trauma which neared them to death experience may see spikes of anxiety. For example, facing an accident themselves or seeing someone die in an accident creates anxiety.

3. Parents Nearing Death: Some people who are helping their parents in their last days may develop a fear of dying.

4. Personal Health: Those who are dealing with chronic health issues like cancer can develop an extreme fear of death. If the health issues aggravate, they may even fear the afterlife and full-blown death phobia.

How To Overcome Thanatophobia/Fear Of Death?

Thanatophobia is not a clinically recognized condition and there is no specific diagnosis to find this condition. However, the doctor will find out symptoms you are experiencing like anxiety disorder and its prevalence for a longer duration, you are referred to a mental health provider.

Once the psychologist or therapist diagnoses the condition, you are provided with the treatment of thanatophobia.

1. Talk Therapy

When one shares his or her experiences with the therapist, the therapist helps you to learn how you can cope with excessive negative thoughts. Talk therapy helps in expressing emotions, getting rid of passive thoughts and preventing conflicts.

2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT is another therapy that is capable of identifying reasons of negative thoughts and changing them for good. It includes tools like role-playing, mental distractions, journaling, and relaxation.

3. Relaxation Techniques

One needs to understand that anxiety and worry can deteriorate physical health. Hence, calming down relaxation techniques like meditation, imagery, deep breathing and acupressure can be followed.

4. Spirituality

Spirituality has a great possibility to change or improve mental, emotional, and physical well-being. In fact, studies have proved that those people who have strong faith in spirituality are less likely to suffer from fear of death or Thanatophobia. You do not need to follow a specific religion to be spiritual, just connect the values and live by them.

5. Focus On Present & Your Wellness

One of the best ways to treat Thanatophobia is to drop the idea of death completely and focus on the present. Stop worrying about what is coming in the future, start eating right, exercise every day, and live your life to the fullest. Remember, if you miss this moment in the present then it will also pass away. So better do justice to what you have now!

Thanatophobia vs Necrophobia:

Thanatophobia is a term describing the fear of death that causes anxiety in a human being. It can also be called as fear of dread or apprehension when someone goes through the thought of dying.

Necrophobia is a different aspect and can be called fear of a dead or dying person or corpses. Even things associated with death like tombstone or graveyard erupts anxiety within them.

What’s the Outlook?

It is completely natural to think about the future but if these thoughts remain the same for more than 6 months or start to hinder daily life, We advise you to consult with a professional.

Talking to a mental health professional will be able to offer guidance and reassurance during this process.


Death is not in the hands of any one of us and fear of death can only make you worry, not control the situation. So thanatophobia shall be moved away from our life with the help of our own willpower or the therapists near you. Willing to connect with a therapist today? Drop us a message at info@calmsage.com today!

About The Author

Akanksha Soni
Akanksha Soni

Akanksha is an active lifestyle blogger and writer at Calmsage. She has learnt various lessons on happiness and methods to fight depression through 'Gurus' as well as own experiences. An ardent practitioner of Yoga and meditation, she keeps traveling, writes and interacts with people to feel alive.

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