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Author Topic: Health Anxiety and fear of death  (Read 1057 times)

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Offline sassparella

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Health Anxiety and fear of death
« on: January 25, 2013, 12:10:11 AM »
My recent bout of HA (I had another bout in my 20s but got over that) started a few months after my father died. I think the grief combined the reminder of my own mortality is what started off this bout. Since then I've looked at my age - 48 and realised that I'm almost certainly well over half way through my life now as I suffer high BP which is treated by meds and high cholesterol and am overweight - though trying to put the latter one right. This has sent my HA into overdrive as I'm petrified of dying and the fact that it's inevitable and getting closer with no escape is fuelling my anxiety greatly so every symptom I get I feel is fatal. I feel that this fear of dying complicates my HA and makes it much harder to deal with as even if I talk rationally to myself about symptoms at the back of my mind I know that the day I die is forever getting closer.

Does anyone else have this fear fuelling their health anxiety and how do you deal with it?
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Offline nole23

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Re: Health Anxiety and fear of death
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2013, 12:44:16 AM »
Hi Sassparella,

I think this is a fear that most people have at some point in their lives. We all have a moment of realisation about our ultimate mortality, and it is scary! Some ways of thinking about it that help me:
1. The Buddhists believe that you only truly start to live when you realise that one day you will die. Although it's a terrifying thought, it might help to visit the old cliche - make the most of living, treat each day as your last. This is how many people deal with fear of death, by making the most of life.
2. Elderly people, particularly those in hospital or care, are generally less afraid of death than the general population. By the time you are 80 + it probably won't worry you much, you may even feel relieved! So not much point worrying about it now, right?
3. I think the fear stems from fear of the unknown. It may be helpful to engage in some activities completely outside your comfort zone and show yourself that you are just fine.
4. Many people find relief in spirituality or religion. It may help to speak to your priest/rabbi/minister/spiritual leader, if you are into that kinda thing. Religious and spiritual views on death are not scary.

Hope that helps a bit. To be perfectly honest I too am terrified! But some of the above pointers have helped me live with it.
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Offline sassparella

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Re: Health Anxiety and fear of death
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2013, 05:21:12 AM »
Thank you for your reply.
I'm not religious at all, I wish I was and that I didn't believe that death was the end and we just cease to be when we die. I don't want to stop and am terrified of just ceasing to exist. I know if I could overcome this fear it would help my health anxiety immensely but i just don't see how i can overcome it.
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Offline nole23

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Re: Health Anxiety and fear of death
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2013, 06:55:33 AM »
I hear ya, it really is the basis of my health anxiety as well. I am not afraid of suffering at all, it's death I fear. I just keep telling myself that when my time comes I wont be scared, so why be scared now...
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Offline Hohum

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Re: Health Anxiety and fear of death
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2013, 07:48:47 AM »
nole23, you make some good points. I completely agree that fear of death is prevalent both inside and outside the HA-suffering community. My wife would likely never visit a Doctor or worry about her health unless she was collapsed in a heap on the floor, but she is terrified to even discuss anything related to death.

There will come a day when none of us are here any more - we hope that the day is when we're very old and have lived a full and satisfying life, but you never know. When I had this realisation it really made me sit up and take notice of where my life was going. I made some huge changes (not least of which was emigrating to another country!) and am much happier for it. Understanding that I am not getting any younger and will not be here forever has definitely eliminated a lot of procrastination from my life!!

I do not consider myself a religious person. That said, I don't subscribe to the scientific belief that once your brain "shuts off" that's the end of existence, either. Religion and Science are both inventions of the human race, so I like to believe that the truth lies somewhere in-between. I have this discussion with friends sometimes and they usually argue that "Science is fact". I prefer to believe that science is theory yet to be disproved - I mean, go back a few hundred years and you would have been put to death for stating that the World was round instead of flat!! Humans always like to think that we've gone as far as we can go, or that we understand it all, but then the next generation proves us wrong.

I would consider myself to be spiritual, in the sense that I don't subscribe to any particular religious beliefs but I do feel that there's something out there which is greater than ourselves. I accept my own mortality, because I cannot change it. To be afraid of it, is to be afraid of living, which rather defeats the point of being alive at all! So, I try to live well and more positively. That's how I deal with it!
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Offline gcalex

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Re: Health Anxiety and fear of death
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2013, 08:51:48 AM »
The only way to deal with it is to make peace with it and better yet to embrace it.  That obviously is an individual approach, be it religious, spiritual, philosophical, practical, whatever.
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Offline sassparella

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Re: Health Anxiety and fear of death
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2013, 09:57:42 PM »
The only way to deal with it is to make peace with it and better yet to embrace it.  That obviously is an individual approach, be it religious, spiritual, philosophical, practical, whatever.

Easier said than done :(  Death terrifies me to the point I think about it all the time, I can't stop worrying about it and every symptom I get is fatal in my mind. I don't know how to make peace with it or to accept it even. It just feels so real and so imminent.
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Offline gcalex

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Re: Health Anxiety and fear of death
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2013, 10:08:02 PM »
Have you sought counseling for this?  Spiritual guidance?  Any type of help?  Why fight against the nature of things?  Why not make the best of it? 
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Offline sassparella

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Re: Health Anxiety and fear of death
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2013, 10:44:00 PM »
I've mentioned it to my psychologist but she can't really help. I'm just so convinced that I'm going to cease to exist and that terrifies me so much. And yes I do fight against it rather than accepting it even though I know that it's inevitable. it's that inevitability that gets to me I guess. I know we all have to face this and it is a selfish fear on my part not wanting to cease to be but I have found no way to face it.
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Offline gcalex

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Re: Health Anxiety and fear of death
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2013, 11:06:28 PM »
Well I am guessing there is some trauma underlying this but obviously that's something you would have to work out for yourself or with someone.  Have you talked about it with friends or relatives? 
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