Understanding and treating death anxiety

Dr Alex Thomson, Dr Rachel Menzies, Professor David Veale

75 minutes


June 2022

Congress webinar


Death or existential anxiety is a term used to describe people’s fear or negative feelings towards death or dying. Some people may focus on their own death, such as ruminating on all the things they will miss out on. Others may experience doubts about the nature of existence itself, or what will happen to them after death or the process of dying. Such experiences are part of being human, but death anxiety is a problem when it is either sufficiently time-consuming, distressing or interfering in one's life. It has become more relevant during COVID. By the end of masterclass, participants will 1) Understand the phenomenology of a death anxiety, and its relationship with the diagnoses of health anxiety, OCD, depression and panic. 2) Be knowledgeable about the processes that maintain death anxiety (e.g., the intolerance of uncertainty, magical thinking, avoidance and checking behaviours related to death. 3) Develop alternative ways of thinking for example thoughts about the awfulness of not existing or the intolerance of not knowing will happen. 4) Use appropriate exposure tasks from writing out one’s funeral wishes and obituary, painting one’s coffin or collecting “memento mori”. 5) Focus on living life to the full now

Chair: Dr Alex Thomson, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust

Setting the scene for understanding death anxiety -Dr Rachel Menzies, The University of Sydney

Treating death anxiety - Professor David Veale, South London and Maudsley NHS Trust and Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London


Log in to see options tailored to you