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November 20, 2018 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Mental Health

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Scared stiff at the thought of dying


For the past three months, I have been thinking that I am going to die! If there is something wrong with me I immediately think it is going to kill me. For example, if I have a headache, it must be a brain tumor! I am sick of being like this! I used to be a lively, outgoing person, but now I am just so depressed. I am scared stiff of the thought of dying!

I did have a severe panic attack before all this started. The doctors said it was anxiety! Could you please tell me what's wrong with me? Will I die?

20-year-old woman


The fear of dying -- or more accurately, the fear of not existing -- is very widespread. Most intelligent people have this concern. We know that we are doomed to die eventually but carry on as though we will live forever. It's known as denial. The fear then goes underground, so to speak, and lurks as anxiety, occasionally spurting out to upset us with sometimes terrifying physical and mental symptoms.

Some people find a satisfying solution to this existential anxiety through religion. They accept a faith, which provides them with answers about life and what happens after death. This then quells the anxiety.

Another kind of anxiety is situational. This is the type of anxiety that can be traced to a particular event or experience. For instance, being trapped in an elevator and thereafter being scared to enter an elevator. Such anxiety might remain connected only to uneasiness around elevators or it might spread to other things such as tall buildings.

Situational anxiety can also arise from an inner conflict (the most common is mixed feelings towards one's parents and feeling bad about the anger, rage or resentment part). A panic attack may be a signal that there is an emotional/psychological conflict within you that you are not facing.

Since your doctors have ruled out any biological cause for your anxiety the good news is that your fear of dying and your panic attack can be treated through well-established therapies. Behavior therapy, hypnotherapy, rational-emotive therapy, traditional psychotherapy and the newer "energy" therapies, all have good track records in helping people overcome anxiety.

In the meantime, slow deep breathing (and I mean *really* slow) will help quell the anxiety. As will exercise, cuddling a pet, and developing solid friendships.

Dr. Knight

This question was answered by Dr. Bryan M. Knight. Bryan M. Knight, MSW, Ph.D., holds a degree in psychology from Sir George Williams University, a Master's in social work from McGill University, and a doctorate in counseling from Columbia Pacific University for his dissertation, “Professional Love: The Hypnotic Power of Psychotherapy”. His 39 years in private practice have taught him to appreciate the uniqueness of each individual, and how to strengthen the client's positive values. Dr. Knight's innovation, NetHypnosis ™, offers therapeutic hypnosis to the public over the Internet. For people looking for a hypnotherapist in their hometown, Dr. Knight has created The International Registry of Professional Hypnotherapists. He is the author of numerous articles and several books, including "The People Paradox", "The Laughter Book", "Enjoying Single Parenthood", "Love, Sex & Hypnosis: Secrets of Psychotherapy", "Health and Happiness with Hypnosis", and "How to Avoid a Bad Relationship".

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