Death Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms, and More I Psych Central

Death anxiety is thought to be at the root of other types of phobias. For example, a person’s fear of snakes could relate to a concern of being bitten and dying. Or, someone with a fear of heights could be ultimately concerned with falling and dying.

They both are connected to extreme anxiety around death, even though that’s not the surface-level fear.

The same can be said of conditions like separation anxiety or agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is the fear of not being able to escape if an anxiety attack occurs. This often results in someone avoiding particular public areas, modes of transportation, or potentially leaving the house at all.

Separation anxiety, usually seen in children, is the fear of not being near a parent or guardian, and both potentially relate to safety and the avoidance of harm or death.

Similarly, if you have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or are a compulsive checker, there’s a good chance that your need to ensure the stove is off or the front door is locked may be connected to avoiding harm or death.

Death anxiety is also connected to hypochondria — aka illness anxiety disorder — and somatic symptom disorder. While these two illnesses are similar, they can vary slightly.

According to the DSM-5, somatic symptom disorder leads to experiencing varied and unexplained levels of pain and complications.

For the condition to fall into this category, it has to include complaints related to sexual function, neurological issues, gastrointestinal issues, and four areas of physical pain.

These complications are usually specific to particular areas, not fake, and cause an extreme amount of distress for the individual.

Illness anxiety can show up with someone refusing to be seen for fear of their health not being taken seriously or consistent doctor’s visits for fear of dying without care. Sometimes, people with illness anxiety mistake typical bodily functions as symptoms of severe conditions.

Both illness anxiety disorder and somatic symptom disorder often lead to frequent visits to a doctor and checkups and revolve around a fear of illness and death.