Terminal anxiety is a syndrome that can occur towards the end of life. This is also known as terminal agitation or terminal delirium. People who experience this show signs of physical, emotional, and / or spiritual anxiety. These can include anxiety , agitation, and cognitive decline in the days leading up to death.
Watching your loved one go through this can be frustrating, and you may wonder if something needs to be done about it. If you and your family already know and accept that your loved one is dying, a calm response can ease the transition a bit.
This article explains in more detail the changes that terminal anxiety can bring. It offers some ideas to help you keep your loved one comfortable in these final days.
Each life and each death is unique. The signs and symptoms of terminal anxiety can manifest as aggressive behavior. You may also observe a calm and lethargic demeanor. Emotionally, it is more difficult to observe aggressive, often hostile behavior. And it is more difficult to handle.
However, there is a pattern of behavior that is common when someone experiences extreme anxiety. They may include:
- anger or emotional outbursts
- lack of attention
This behavior is most likely related to discomfort and changes in the body as death approaches, rather than genuine anger or hostility.
Terminal anxiety describes a more sudden change in behavior towards the end of life. This is in contrast to anger, depression, or other emotions that are characteristic of the death stages .
Many of the behaviors are similar to those seen in dementia (decreased mental function). A dying loved one may feel uncomfortable. They can constantly pull on clothing, sheets, and any IV (intravenous) hoses.
Others may seem indecisive. They search for items or order something and then walk away. They may appear cunning or accuse people of crimes that may or may not make sense.
Sometimes anxiety comes on briefly and then goes away on its own. A number of other known end-of-life symptoms can persist when a person develops terminal anxiety. This may include giving up closeness to others or talking about deceased family members.
There are many different causes of terminal anxiety. Many of the physical changes that occur during the dying process can lead to this type of delusion. Some of these causes can be easily remedied, while others cannot.
The most common reasons include:
- Medicines : Opioids for pain and medications used to reduce anxiety are often used to relieve pain at the end of life. They are known to increase the risk of delirium. If the organs of the dying person's body begin to fail, the effects of the drugs that cause delirium may increase.
- Cancer treatment : Chemotherapy drugs and steroids are harmful to the body. The dying person is even more likely to experience negative consequences, including anxiety.
- Poorly controlled pain : Dying patients often cannot describe their pain. And even when treating pain, a delicate balance must be found. Overconsumption can lead to toxicity, while underconsumption can increase pain and discomfort. This exacerbates terminal anxiety.
- Organ failure : When organs like the liver and kidneys begin to fail, changes in the body's metabolism and electrolyte changes can affect how the brain works. Heart and lung failure, which often occurs several days before death, causes a drop in oxygen levels. All of these systemic effects will exacerbate the ultimate anxiety.
- Medical problems : Dehydration, anemia (low red blood cells), infections, and fever are common when loved ones die. They weaken the body and disturb the brain, causing incurable anxiety.
- Lack of voluntary activity : urinary retention (inability to empty urine) and constipation are very common towards the end of life. This is because the sensations and movements of the muscles that control these functions are impaired. The result is pain and great discomfort.
- Emotional response to death : Terminally ill people often realize that they are dying. As death approaches, fear, anxiety, and emotional disturbances can arise. This can include anxiety.
Fatal anxiety is common at the end of life. Your loved one may seem confused, anxious, or angry. They can get dirty on their clothes or insulate themselves. Many causes can be involved, including organ failure or medications used to treat the disease. If your loved one shows signs of incurable anxiety, work with your healthcare provider to find ways to make them feel as comfortable and well-treated as possible.
Psychologists often describe the stages of death as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance (DABDA). During this time, the person may experience outbursts and irrational behaviors.
The stages of death differ from terminal anxiety in that they begin at the time of terminal diagnosis. With the final emotion, they arise simultaneously with the fall in the number of people at the end of life. Both stages of DABDA and anxiety can occur at the same time.
Terminal anxiety is sometimes mistaken for an impending awareness of death. This is when a person may have hallucinations, such as having visions or conversations with loved ones who have already passed away. Depending on the circumstances, both can happen at the same time and it can be difficult to tell the difference.
Fatal anxiety is usually only treated if the behavior harms the person or others, or if a third-party authority requires treatment. Options include mild tranquilizers called benzodiazepines and antipsychotic medications called phenothiazines .
The way a dying person behaves with incurable restlessness does not always match his personality throughout his life or the way he treats you. It is important to keep this in mind if they are angry and hostile to your actions, or if they are calm and reflecting on the memories.
Many emotions can arise simply because you know death is imminent. Your loved one's deadly anxiety can compound your distress over what he says and does. It can make you feel guilty about how you deal with the death of a loved one.
We all want death to be a pleasant and relaxing experience, but if your loved one is dealing with incurable anxiety, their final days seem the exact opposite. Some of the causes of terminal anxiety are easy to treat. However, in most cases, treatment is difficult.
Often times, there are many additional causes of terminal anxiety, and it can be difficult to identify just one. Once you and your loved one have reached this stage, comfort is often a priority. Taking pain or discomfort as gently as possible, often with professional guidance, can help ease the last few days for everyone involved.
Some families choose to work with a palliative care team because experienced end-of-life professionals can advise what to expect and what types of interventions are needed. Close friends and other family members can also help you get through this difficult time.
Get the word of drug information
Fatal anxiety often takes families by surprise. Most people experience bouts of drowsiness, peace, and restless delirium a few days before dying from a chronic illness.
Few, if any, families could have mentioned their concern to her. Simply put, this is not a memory that many seek to return to. It can make you wonder if your experience is unique, causing you to worry about not doing what you should be doing. You need to make sure that terminal anxiety is fairly common.