Death Anxiety

I have been having frequent panic attacks and anxiety over death. Doing some research leads me to believe it’s called death anxiety. Multiple times a day I get a wave of panic and anxiety over the realization that I’m going to die someday and it sometimes leads to a full blown panic attack.

It’s not easily treated with medication and all I want is for it to stop. I’ve decided to stop taking the anti anxiety meds I’ve been prescribed to take when I get panic attacks as my research also shows it can lead to more panic attacks. And I wasn’t having nearly as many prior to starting to take it. It’s also highly addictive, so that’s another reason I’m hesitant to continue taking it.

The biggest thing for me is I don’t know how anyone can help me with this. I lost my belief in god and an afterlife long ago. And death is inevitable and always looming.

My life is going nowhere. Im in my 30s, never had a girlfriend, can’t work, will live with my parents who are in their mid 60s for the foreseeable future, can’t work. When you have nothing in your future but dying how can you think of anything else. I have too much free time, the second my mind wanders the panic sets back in. I have to constantly distract myself with movies, streams, games.


Hey @jpcguy89

Thank you for sharing about your current fears and trials. I know that you are certainly not alone and death is a daunting topic to think about. And you’re right, we will all die someday, but the fact of the matter is that you don’t know when. I believe you have SO much life still ahead of you. Life doesn’t have to end here.

I would encourage you to talk to your doctor about your meds and all the risks you found in your research. They can help guide you through that and even come up with a safety plan if you do have a bad reaction to your meds. I know from experience that things can get worse if you just go off cold turkey.

You never know what life has in store for you next and I know that there is hope to be found even in the darkest of situations.

Distracting yourself with movies, streams and games is not a bad idea. If you are on Twitch, come check out HeartSupport’s page. We’d love to interact with you and keep in touch. @Danjo and @Casers are two of our streamers and they are great guys. So, keep moving forward. Find something that sparks joy within you and pursue that.

Hold fast, friend. We believe in you. And I hope to see you on one of the streams in the future


Hey @jpcguy89,

Thank you so much for being here and sharing all of this. You are definitely not alone in struggling with death anxiety.

Years ago I was in the same situation and was really desperate that this specific type of anxiety would never give me a break as death is not something we can solve. This fear got more intense after losing people in my family and I’d think about it a lot. I’d have this vertiginous thought about infinity, like a deep panic once the idea of being away forever would really strike me. I’d wake up in the middle of the night with the instant deep awareness that I’m gonna die one day and it felt like a huge burden. Sounds stupid said like that as it’s obvious that we’re all going to die one day, but it really was a way to acknowledge it that was deeper than I ever felt. So I started to question everything and tried to distract myself as you do, yet feeling like it was some kind of band aid on something deeper.

You are right: distraction helps. At the same time, I believe you mentioned something very important too:

My life is going nowhere. Im in my 30s, never had a girlfriend, can’t work, will live with my parents who are in their mid 60s for the foreseeable future, can’t work. When you have nothing in your future but dying how can you think of anything else.

Fear of death is a symptom of what you just expressed: the need to create a purpose in your life, to live a meaningful life. We know death is part of life, and somehow we can’t negotiate that. But fearing death is not really about death itself, it’s more about what we do with the time given to us. I believe that, when we fear death to the point of being extremely anxious, we’re actually afraid of not living. We’re afraid of regrets. We’re scared of missing the opportunity to embrace the time we have the way we want to. As you said: you feel like your life’s going nowhere. That’s a key point and where it will be interesting for you to start. What are your dreams, goals, what do you want to aim for in this life? Who’s jpcguy and what are your fears preventing you to do? Those are big questions, but now might be an interesting time of your life to dive into this, even if it feels a bit scary at first. This anxiety that you have is very draining, yet it’s not necessarily against you. It tells you something, as some kind of red flag, about you and how you envision your life.

A while ago something that also really helped me too was to read about death anxiety. I’ve learned about Irvin Yalom who created a type of therapy called existential psychotherapy, focused on philosophical and existential concerns, such as the fear of death. Some of his books are about his clients experiences about it and it was really interesting and reassuring to see at the time that I was not alone or crazy for feeling that way. I’d highly recommend you to have a look at “Existential therapy” and “Staring at the sun” if you’d like to give it a try. It doesn’t give you the answers for “how to do life”. But it gives some perspective, insights and food for thoughts. Overall it’s a good reminder that what you’re experiencing is human and you are not doomed to be stuck with those fears.

Now is just probably a good time to reflect on your life, on yourself, the person you want to be and the goals you’d like to achieve. It will give you a direction and be a solid ground for your future. You are not doomed to feel stuck where you are, friend. :hrtlegolove:


Sorry you’re having such a rough time. I’m also glad that you came here for support. It can be quite a shock to face our own mortality, yet it’s essential to do so. If all goes well, the panic will recede, and peaceful acceptance will take over.

I provided hospice care for many years. Some people were quite philosophical about the nearness of their own death. Others dreaded it. Yet when death became imminent, without exception, my patients became peaceful and accepting, and the fear was gone. I can only speculate on what the experience of dying is like, yet what I have the witnessed is encouraging.

Many years ago, I had endocarditis-infected heart valves. That caused frequent arrhythmias, which continued long after the infection was treated. So, I felt as though I was going to die at any moment, and this feeling persisted. One night, I woke up with an especially bad case of anxiety. Rather suddenly, the anxiety shifted to anger with God. I demanded that He in my life immediately, as I was tired of the fear.

As is typical, God didn’t respond in the way that I had hoped. However, from that point on, both the fear and the arrhythmias began to decrease. They did keep occurring, but I was no longer panicked by them. They still do occur, but rarely.

Eventually, I came to a different perspective. Death became a friendly presence, who was there to remind me how valuable each moment of life is. I believe that awareness actually increased the quality of my life.

Regarding belief in God, those who say they do, are out of necessity nurturing a delusion, that their little human brain can actually conceive of such a Divine Reality.

I believe in a “First Cause,” from which existence became manifest. I also believe there are many dimensions and manifestations of consciousness. I don’t know what to expect after life, but I have chosen to trust that it’ll be okay.

One thing is for sure. Fear involves a physiologic process, therefore, in the absence of a physical body, physical symptoms of fear cannot exist. Consider also, fear is in our DNA as a self-preservation mechanism. When there is nothing physical to preserve, there is no need for fear.

If, when death is imminent for me, and I am able to think about it, I want to dwell on all the good things that happened in my life, along with the negative things that ended up being useful tools for growth in wisdom and compassion.

You can’t work? You have performed research on your medication. You have reached out to us here. Perhaps your work is actually a mission that involves communication. You may or may not be able to make money with it, but it certainly can give your life purpose.

I can say with absolute certainty, you will remain alive until you die. Does it make sense to remain engaged with life, rather than let it pass you by because your mind is dominated by thoughts of death?

Still, it’s better to acknowledge the thoughts calmly, rather than fight or deny them. That’s how you can have the thoughts, but not be dominated by them.

I don’t know that these words would have meant that much to me back when I was struggling to come to terms with death, but perhaps you will remember them at a time when they can be useful.

There is a thing called time bracketing. That’s when you set small goals to be accomplished within specific segments of time. For example, committing to the study of the book for an hour, or doing some form of exercise for a set period of time. Another small goal might involve committing to not dwelling on negative thoughts for the next 15 minutes. Then when those 15 minutes are up commit to another 15 minutes, and so on. There was a time when I had to use the approach in order to avoid negative self talk. It took time, but I eventually broke the habit.

This may sound a bit strange, but a process of desensitization can occur as we realize that we no longer need to be afraid of fearful thoughts.

Take care of your body as best you can. Do your best to get the sleep that you need.

Hang in there my friend. Let us know how you’re doing.

1 Like

First off thank you all for replies and for your support. I just had the worst panic attack due to my death anxiety I ever had. I had to take the medication I was hoping to avoid because I was spiraling hard. It was onset when I tried to research coping strategies. They suggested envisioning yourself on your deathbed and what people would say to you. That set me off hard. Trying to distract myself right now. My just walked by and asked if I was okay. I said no and that I just had one of the worst panic attacks I’ve ever had. And all I got was an exasperated sigh in response. I feel so alone. The fear of death is crushing and ever present. I’m hoping once the pandemic is over I can focus on building a life I can enjoy.



I think you’ve had some great comments to your post, but I’m just going to share my own experience.
My psychiatrist recommended that I try volunteering some of my time to help others who’ve lived in a lot of trauma. I feel very fortunate to be here, and part of this community. But of course it’s been just as much, if not more, about ‘healing’ me, as I had hoped to help heal others. We all have so much to offer, we just need to believe in ourselves. Peace

1 Like

It sounds like you came upon the wrong research. To the extent possible, shift the focus of your thoughts. Are there things or people that you care deeply about? Give those things some thought. Do you have a favorite bit of music that helps you feel calm and positive?

Keyword relaxation and/or meditation in YouTube you will find a lot of resources there. They also have recordings of music that generates specific vibrations, that can really calm the mind, and open the heart.

When you first began to feel anxious, did you immediately attribute it to thoughts of death? Sometimes anxiety comes before we figure out why it exists. When this happens, there is a chance a person will attribute it to something that may not have been the initial cause. In other words, maybe you began feeling anxious, then decided that fear of death was the cause, even though it actually came about as the result of something else.

What if you felt confidence in your ability to deal with whatever changes may occur in your life? It’s common to be afraid of change. It’s almost as common to fear that things won’t change. There is also this thing called generalized anxiety disorder. That’s when a person feels anxious but can’t identify the cause. In many cases, an alteration in brain chemistry is the cause. Anxiety can be like a loud noise in an enclosed area, making it difficult to determine its source.

Self understanding is elusive when a person is feeling anxious. If medication helps, by all means take it! Perhaps if you combined relaxation techniques with medication, it will be possible for you to guide your thoughts in a positive direction.

It might be hard to imagine now, but the fear that you are experiencing isn’t permanent.

Are you allowed to have a pet, or do you have one? Sometimes their nonverbal counsel is the best available.


I’m so very sorry, friend. Panic attacks are scary and really draining. I hope you managed to get some rest since that happened.

They suggested envisioning yourself on your deathbed and what people would say to you. That set me off hard.

I guess the point of that exercise is to create some kind of mental exposure to a stressor, but this kind of practice is better done with a therapist, and even more very very progressively. The idea is probably to make someone less scared of what they’re anxious about, but done too quickly or not in a safe way, it can be counterproductive and increase your fear. How you reacted is totally understandable, friend. You’re not crazy, you’re not weird, and you’ll learn to deal with those fears at your own pace. But right now, you can put aside this exercise. It’s not for you, and that’s okay.

And all I got was an exasperated sigh in response.

I’m sorry that person reacted with a sigh. Sometimes people just don’t know what to do or say, and they feel upset because of the situation itself. In any case, and regardless of the reason behind their reaction, it’s not your fault. You’re only human for struggling with something that is a struggle for many people as well. We’re not machines. As human beings we have a capacity to think, to feel, to imagine and think about things that are not happening right now, such as death. People who understand that and connect with you emotionally will always be respectful for how you feel. You’re not guilty for going through a rough time. :hrtlegolove:

I’m hoping once the pandemic is over I can focus on building a life I can enjoy.

What if a part of the answer was about focusing on living in the here and now, instead of waiting for something to happen in the future? I hear you though. I hear what you said about feeling stuck and I totally understand why this pandemic makes you feel like your life is on pause. I think that’s actually something that most people experience as well. It feels like being on hold, and we’re literally waiting for doors to open again.

But still we are alive now. Still we are breathing, existing, spending time. Is that time less important, valuable or significant? For sure, it forces us to reframe our goal for the most part. It’s harder to meet new people, harder to start a new activity, harder to find a job… but it’s not impossible either. And what if this time was also an opportunity to learn to know ourselves better and take care of ourselves in different ways? And, maybe, working on that anxiety in a calm and gentle way could be a first step. Actually definitely a way to build some solid foundations for yourself before we’ll be more able to go out and see others.

You said you want to focus on building a life you can enjoy. That’s a wonderful perspective. Right now things may be limited because of covid, but I believe you can still keep this vision and embrace steps that would be some kind of gentle alternative that will still serve you in the future. Wings suggested a few interesting things about how to build for yourself some kind of “self-care pack”. Taking care of yourself is never wasted and is, 100%, part of building a life you can enjoy. You and I also discussed a while ago on Discord (I’m Micro.smos there) about coloring. You have, without a doubt, a creative spark. Could that be a tool to use in order to take care of yourself? Whether it’s through colorings or any other different type of creativity. Are there activities you always wanted to try but never dared to?

I believe in you, friend.:hrtlegolove:


Hi I am so sorry you’re experiencing this, it is horrible to go through things like this. I experience similar in my life due to the love of my life passing away. Tbh I went through a dozen psychologist before I found one that gave me the correct medication so if they will not listen when you’re being open and honest then I would suggest switching psychologist. There are also tests they can order that can determine your genetic makeup so they know right off the bat what medication will work and what won’t. Also there are support groups for those that are grieving. Therapy helps a lot as well with these things. My condolences to you and best wishes.


Hi @jpcguy89 ,

The HeartSupport Houston team responded to your post here. Hold fast friend, and lean on our community.

1 Like

Thank you so much for taking the time to make that video. I’ve been avoiding this thread so much because I’ve actually been doing pretty well these past few days. I was so happy so many people care about me enough to respond to me. The outpouring of support has done wonders for my self esteem. I’ve taken everything you’ve said to heart. Yesterday before seeing your video I took my dog for a long walk and it was really nice.

Today I’m going to stop fearing fearing death, and start living.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 365 days. New replies are no longer allowed.