When Does Thinking About Dying Become A Problem?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

It is the first thing I think of when I wake up. The last thing before I fall asleep. I picture situations where it could happen and how. If a semi goes by I picture the accident and what might happen. This gets frustrating because some of them are actually frightening. My mom killed herself when I was 18 years old. I come from an abusive household, all kinds of abuse. I am on meds for depression anxiety and psychosis and none of them work. I just wanted to know when you thought it was too much and when a person needs to seek help.

A. Thinking about dying is a problem when it negatively impacts your life. I would also consider it a problem if you can’t stop yourself from thinking about it.

Thinking about death does not always have a negative impact on someone’s life. Existential philosophers, for example, spend their entire careers contemplating death and its meaning to life.

For some individuals, the focus on death gives their life meaning. Psychological studies have shown that when people are reminded of their mortality, it impacts their behavior. A recent New York Times article discusses those studies. Researchers have found that when individuals receive reminders of their mortality, they tend to cling to their beliefs and act more negatively and more harshly towards individuals who they perceive as threatening their worldview.

If your thoughts concern you, cause you distress, or negatively impact your life, then I would suggest seeking counseling. Counseling could help to extinguish your distressing thoughts and the anxiety that they produce. In addition, it could help with the other issues you are facing, including anxiety and the loss of your mother. The “find help” tab, at the top of this page, can help you to locate a therapist in your community. Write again if you have additional questions. Take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Sep 2011

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2011). When Does Thinking About Dying Become A Problem?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 12, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/09/03/when-does-thinking-about-dying-become-a-problem/