Thanatophobia or death phobia

David Holt
Thanatophobia or death phobia

Thanatophobia is a form of anxiety characterized by fear of one's own death or the process of dying. It is also known as a death phobia.

In the Greek language, the word "Thanatos" refers to death and "phobos" means fear. Thus, thanatophobia translates as fear of death.

Having some death anxiety is a completely 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. Thus, if the fear is so frequent and intense as to affect daily life, then it is considered a disorder..

A person can feel extreme anxiety and fear when he considers that death is inevitable. They may also experience:

  • Fear of separation
  • Fear of dealing with a loss
  • Worrying about leaving loved ones behind

In their most extreme form, these feelings can prevent people from doing daily activities or even leaving their homes. Your fears center on things that could result in death, such as contamination or dangerous objects or people.

The psychologist Xevi Molas explains everything to you in this interesting video.


  • Types of fears related to Thanatophobia
    • Fear of the unknown
    • Fear of loss of control
    • Pain, illness, or loss of dignity
    • Concerns about family members
  • The fear of death in children
  • Other related fears

Types of fears related to Thanatophobia

Fear of the unknown

Thanatophobia can also be rooted in fears of the unknown. It is part of the human condition to want to know and understand the world around us. What happens after death, however, cannot be unequivocally proven while we are still alive..

Fear of loss of control

Like knowledge, control is something humans strive for. However, the act of dying is completely out of anyone's control. Those who fear losing control may try to keep death at bay through rigorous and sometimes extreme health checks and other rituals..

Over time, it's easy to see how people with this type of thanatophobia may be at risk for obsessive-compulsive disorder, hypochondriasis, and even delusional thinking..

Pain, illness, or loss of dignity

Some people with an apparent fear of death do not actually fear death itself. Instead, they fear the circumstances that often surround the act of dying. They may fear excruciating pain, debilitating illness, or even the associated loss of dignity. This type of thanatophobia can be identified through careful questioning about the specific aspects of fear.

Concerns about family members

Many people who suffer from thanatophobia are not as afraid of dying themselves as of what will happen to their families after they die..

This seems to be especially common in new parents, single parents, and caregivers. They may worry that their family is suffering financially or that no one is around to care for them..

The fear of death in children

A child's fear of death can be devastating for parents, but it can actually be a healthy part of normal development. Children generally lack the defense mechanisms, religious beliefs, and understanding of death that help adults cope. They also don't fully understand time, making it difficult for them to accept that people sometimes go back and forth..

These factors can lead children to a confusing and sometimes scary concept of what it means to be dead. Whether the fear qualifies as a phobia depends on its severity and how long it has been present.

Phobias are generally not diagnosed in children until they have been present for more than six months..

Other related fears

It is not uncommon for people with thanatophobia to develop related phobias as well. Fears of tombstones, funeral homes, and other symbols of death are common, as they can serve as reminders of the main phobia. Fear of ghosts or other entities is also common, especially in those whose thanatophobia is based on religious factors.

Yet No Comments