Thanatophobia is the fear of death. The word is originated from the Greek thanatos, meaning "death", and phobos, meaning "fear". It is normal for people to be afraid of death, since everyone will die eventually, but people suffering from thanatophobia are extremely afraid of death and may have excessive thoughts about death. They may become overwhelmingly scared when encountering a trivial accident or catching a typically non-fatal illness. Sufferers may also constantly fear being murdered. Traumatic experience in the past, like witnessing a tragic accident in which the victim died or narrowly escaping a deadly situation, is a common cause of thanatophobia.
Thanatophobes may wonder tremendously about the afterlife. According to religious beliefs, the afterlife may depend on the qualities of the person's life. Thanatophobic people may fear consequences in the afterlife due to potentially negative things they have done in the past. This may lead to stygiophobia.
Thanatophobia affects more women than men. The age group most commonly affected by thanatophobia is ages 40–59. Despite their young age, many young children have been known to suffer from thanatophobia due to their lack of knowledge about death, but they are quickly treated when they are taught about death.
Triggering thanatophobia induces a panic attack, causing symptoms such as trembling, numbness, rapid heartrate, sweating, breathlessness, and dry mouth. Thanatophobia can be treated using cognitive-behavior therapy, which is used to heal phobias step-by-step, talk therapy, which treats phobias by exchanging rational thoughts about them, support groups, where people gather and share their experiences with phobias, and relaxation techniques, used to relax the thanatophobe and get them to face their fear calmly. For severe thanatophobes, medication can be provided. While it doesn't cure the phobia, it suppresses symptoms for a short period of time.
- Necrophobia (the fear of dead things or of things associated with death)
- Gerascophobia (the fear of aging and the associated destruction of health)
- Athazagoraphobia (the fear of being forgotten and oblivious)
- Stygiophobia (the fear of Hell)
- Foniasophobia (the fear of murderers and serial killers)
- Monatophobia (the fear of dying alone)