For the past six months or so, I have thought about death multiple times a day. I think about the fact that I will no longer exist and I will never be alive again. When I think about it, I feel cold, nauseous, panicked, and depressed. No event that I know of triggers these thoughts and they have gotten to the point where they keep my up very late at night and I feel terrified to be left alone with my thoughts. Do you have any idea what this might be and how I can fix it?

A. We all think about death from time to time, though psychologically it’s something that most people avoid. Thinking about death is uncomfortable. People don’t want to be reminded of their own mortality because it can generate a great deal of anxiety.

Though many people avoid the subject, some others find that the focus on death gives their life meaning. That is the essence of existentialism, as a philosophy. For the existentialist, the awareness of death is important. It is a reminder that our existence is finite and that we shouldn’t take our lives for granted. For the existentialist, the focus on death has a positive rather than a negative influence in their lives.

Your focus on death seems to be having a negative influence in your life. It’s potentially driven by anxiety which may signify an anxiety disorder. It’s not uncommon for people with anxiety disorders to be highly focused on death.

I would recommend that you consult a mental health professional about your symptoms. He or she can determine if an anxiety disorder is present and if so, recommend a specific treatment. With anxiety disorders, it’s typically recommended that you receive help sooner rather than later. Untreated anxiety disorders tend to worsen. They don’t typically get better on their own.

Anxiety disorders are highly treatable conditions. Psychotherapy and medication are the two most common interventions. With the proper treatment, you can overcome your anxiety and it will no longer interfere with your life. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle