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Jewish Journal

Feeling Anxious

by Natalie Landver

May 17, 2012 | 10:21 am

Dear Therapists,

For the last few months, I have been extremely anxious about people closest to me dying.  I have always been somewhat nervous around this issue, but lately, it has escalated.  I always think of the worst scenarios of what can go wrong (Always sudden deaths).  The thought of loosing my husband terrifies me, and as much as I try not to think about it, the thoughts are there.  I used to feel this way about family members too.  Most of the time, I realize that these thoughts are crazy, but I am still having trouble getting them out of my mind on a daily basis.  How can I better deal with this problem?



Dear Anxious,

Fear of death and loosing our loved ones is not that uncommon.  However, becoming consumed by these thoughts, and feeling constant panic about them can be a problem, and may be tipping over to a form of anxiety disorder. It sounds like what you may be going through is an existential crisis.  In simplest terms, an existential crisis is a stage of development through which an individual questions the very foundations of life. Often times, when answers to these questions such as the meaning and purpose of life are no longer providing satisfaction, direction, and peace of mind, a person feels fear.  This person also comes to terms with the fact that life is not fully in his or her control.

I wonder if this notion of control has been a reoccurring theme in your life.  It is also important to note that you do not mention the fear of your own life, rather, fear of people you seem to feel very attached to.  It is important for you to explore the type of relationships you have with these people, what they mean to you, and if your dependency on them has a role in these fears of loss.

The fact that this fear has recently escalated makes me question if anything has happened to magnify this feeling.  Do you recently feel more attached to your husband then before?  Sometimes increased intimacy and the ability to love someone deeper may trigger the already innate fear of loss. At other times feeling unexpressed anger toward our loved ones may shift into fantasies of loss.

The fact that you imagine these “deaths” as sudden implies a cognitive distortion. This means that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true in this moment.  These false thoughts usually lead to negative emotions.  Cognitive distortions can show themselves in several different ways, but it seems to be manifesting through a term called catastrophizing.  This is when people expect disaster to strike no matter what, and they tend to amplify the problem, no matter how big or small.  It would be wise for you to talk about these feelings you are experiencing, to better understand them, and to work through them.  We all experience unsettling feelings, however, the more you attend to your well being, the better suited you can be when facing these issues. 

Sincerely,
Ask Your Therapists

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Golie Zarabi is a Marriage & Family Therapist Intern. Golie practices psychotherapy in both English and Farsi. She received her Bachelor’s degree from University of...

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