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Thanatophobia, or fear of death, is a relatively complicated phobia. Many, if not most, people are afraid of dying. Some people fear being dead, while others are afraid of the actual act of dying. However, if the fear is so prevalent as to affect your daily life, then you might have a full-blown phobia.

any people's fear of death is tied into their religious beliefs, particularly if they happen to be going through a period of questioning. Some people think that they know what will happen after death, but worry that they may be wrong. Some believe that the path to salvation is very straight and narrow, and fear that any deviations or mistakes may cause them to be eternally condemned.

Religious beliefs are highly personalized, and even a therapist of the same general faith may not fully understand a client's beliefs. If the fear of death is religiously based, it is often helpful to seek supplemental counseling from one's own religious leader. However, this should never be used to replace traditional mental health counseling.

Thanatophobia may also have roots 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. People who are highly intelligent and inquisitive are often at greater risk for this type of thanatophobia, as are those who are questioning their own philosophical or religious beliefs.

Some people with an apparent fear of death do not actually fear death itself. Instead, they are afraid of the circumstances that often surround the act of dying. They may be afraid of crippling pain, debilitating illness or even the associated loss of dignity. This type of thanatophobia may be identified through careful questioning about the specifics of the fear. Many people with this type of fear also suffer from nosophobia, hypochondriasis or other somatoform disorders.

It is not uncommon for people who suffer from 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, particularly in those whose thanatophobia is based in religious factors.

Depending on the circumstances, a variety of talk therapy solutions may be appropriate, ranging from cognitive-behavioral to psychoanalytic. Supplemental religious counseling, medications and other therapeutic alternatives may also be used in conjunction with therapy.

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