Is fear of death a factor in some mental illness?

The article “Death anxiety – the worm at the core of mental illness” argues that death anxiety is a hidden factor in many mental illness, and that this crosses over into many disorders.

The article, by Rachel E. Menzies and Associate Professor Ross G. Menzies, was published in the Australian Psychological Society’s InPsych, Issue 6, December 2018.

Death anxiety – InPsych, December 2018.

“For as long as humans have been recording their history, death anxiety has been a pervasive theme. From Gilgamesh’s 4000-year-old laments over his own mortality, to recent attempts to preserve one’s body using cryogenics (an effort not dissimilar in its goal to the ancient Egyptian practice of mummification), our species has grappled with our own impermanence in myriad ways,” they say.

“Fears of death feature heavily within illness anxiety and the somatoform disorders, with body checking, frequent medical appointments and reassurance seeking, and requests for medical testing being key behaviours in these conditions.”

“Thoughts of death have the ability to create a sense of powerlessness, loneliness, and meaninglessness, and for some individuals, may seriously undermine their experience of happiness or peace.”

“Although people may develop helpful methods of managing their fears of death, such as building relationships and working towards meaningful goals, they may equally engage in maladaptive coping strategies, such as avoidance. As a result, death anxiety has been argued to be a transdiagnostic construct, contributing to the development and maintenance of numerous mental health conditions .”

And until the underlying fears are addressed: “psychopathology will continue to return, albeit manifested in a superficially different presentation.”

The article then goes on to explore strategies for overcoming this, such as escape acceptance,  approach acceptance and neutral acceptance.

Not only is the article an interesting read, but the references look really interesting too.

To read ‘Death Anxiety – the worm at the core of mental health’ go to:

We came upon this article when exploring the Wecroak website. To find out about ‘Wecroak’, go to:

Thanatophobia – or extreme death anxiety is a ‘thing’. To read a personal take on this, go to:

For more on why acknowledging death is actually good for your mental health, go to:

And also:

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