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My fear of death and how to overcome it

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It is actually very common for people in your age to begin to think about death. Strange, as at this age, death should be the furthest thing from your mind as you are young and presumably healthy. However, I have seen in my clinical work as well as some of my family members and friends the onset of a pre-occupation of death to the point wherein it becomes an obsession and a consuming fear. These thoughts usually start out in the early to mid 20’s and either diminish as the individual goes through a rationalization processor gets worse (anxiety, panic disorders, agoraphobia, and so on).

According to Erikson, the life stage you are in now is referred to as “Intimacy versus Isolation”. At this stage of development, young people seek out close relationships which result in lifelong friendships, marriages, and stronger family ties.When these relationships are absent, it can lead to isolation, depression, even anxiety and other disorders. As you stated you do suffer from anxiety, it is no surprise that the anxiety has led to thoughts or feelings of death or dying.

In young adulthood, you are dealing with a sense of pending independence, going out in the world on your own, as well as possibly losing someone you love to death, such as a grandparent. One’s support system, feelings of being valued, and having a sense of belonging may help transition through this phase. Although if it interferes with daily activities and causes severe distress, you should seek counseling.

While you did not elaborate on your symptoms, it may be possible that you suffer from panic attacks as well. Panic attacks can come suddenly with many physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, shakiness, feeling faint, difficulty breathing, etc. They can come with emotional symptoms as well such as feeling as if you are going insane, feeling that things are unreal, or feeling as if you are dying. Panic attacks are episodic bursts of intense anxiety which can become quite debilitating if not treated.

Additionally, your thoughts of death may or may not be related to Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder, which is also a clinical disorder. “Adult-onset cases of ASAD begin in late teens or early 20’s, with 80 percent of all first onsets occurring by age 30”.While this may interlude with Erikson’s theory of intimacy versus isolation, it manifests mostly due to unresolved/unmet needs as moving through the life stages as a child through young adulthood.

There is also another type of phobia called thanatophobia. This is described as “an unhealthy fear of death” that interferes with daily life. Fear of death, which consumes your thought and prevents you from leading a normal life, maybe a psychological condition and needs to be evaluated by a mental health professional.”

I do not know if any of these scenarios may be the case with you dear sister as I do not have enough information. Only a therapist can assess and evaluate you one on one; therefore, I highly suggest you seek counseling.

In the meantime, know that this is a fairly normal phenomenon you are experiencing. If you deal with it early, it will not manifest into a full-blown psychological issue. As it has only been three months, I suggest you do get evaluated and treated.

Also, try to keep a journal in sha’ Allah and write down when these thoughts happen, how long they last, what you were thinking before you began thinking about death, as well as any major events or stressors in your life that may have contributed to these thinking patterns. This will give you insight into any triggers or unresolved issues that you may have.

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