Crises Related to Life Stages: Existential Dread

Contemplating existential dread appears to be part of the human condition. It’s a topic that has long been explored by writers, artists, and thinkers throughout the centuries. When triggered by anxiety, existential dread can involve psychological and emotional discomfort. Frequently related to life stages and major life experiences and changes, existential dread can become a crisis point for many people. For individuals struggling with mental health or behavioral health conditions, this dread can be a trigger for symptoms. 

WhiteSands is a leading treatment center that specializes in addiction and mental health treatment. Our team of licensed clinicians supports patients with individualized treatments based on scientific evidence and best holistic practices. Stress is a common trigger for people who have addictions and/or a dual diagnosis. Existential dread is a form of stress that tends to occur during crisis points in life. Our therapists help clients in both an inpatient and outpatient setting. Coping with mental and behavioral health conditions alone is challenging; clients trust our experienced clinicians to help them achieve their recovery goals. 

If you are searching for high-quality treatment for a substance use disorder or mental health condition, rely on WhiteSands. Whether you’re struggling with existential dread, a drug addiction, or a mental illness like depression, you can depend on our caring mental health professionals for help. 

What Is Existential Dread?

Existential dread is a sense of dread related to life–it’s meaning and purpose. It tends to involve complex psychological and emotional factors that can be triggered by things like age (reaching a certain birthday), illness, or the loss of someone close. Existential dread may be governed by overwhelming anxiety. It may be a passing concern or it may be a pervasive thought for many. 

Learning how to identify worries related to existential dread is one step toward learning to cope with it. During therapy sessions, clinicians might help clients identify the factors that caused them to experience existential dread. Once clients understand what triggered their dread, they may be able to address it better and develop strategies for coping with such concerns more easily in the future. 

Experiencing existential dread can detract heavily from a person’s psychological well-being and contribute to emotional instability. When these feelings interfere with one’s daily life, it’s important to seek help. WhiteSands features experienced therapists who treat conditions such as depression and anxiety that are often impacted by feelings of existential dread. Learning to cope with overwhelming thoughts and feelings is a cornerstone of effective condition management. 

Navigating the Storms of Existential Concerns

Many existential concerns can trigger symptoms of anxiety. Existential dread is often related to common themes like:

Death: some people contemplate their mortality and the meaning of their life. They may feel dread at the prospect of their end. They may have a faith crisis and struggle to put their life into a religious context. They may have lost someone, which makes them question their own life and approach death. Navigating questions of mortality is something therapists and clients work through as a recovery activity.

Loneliness: sometimes people who are lonely or isolated may struggle with existential dread. Feeling alone may be linked to feelings of disconnection. People in this situation may feel existential dread when contemplating their future because a future of isolation and loneliness can be emotionally uncomfortable. 

Meaningless: often, people who are struggling with existential dread reflect on the meaningless of life, which can add to their anxiety or depression. They may wonder “What’s the point of it all,” and question all their life’s work or ambitions. When a person feels that their life is meaningless, they may suffer from increased symptoms of depression. 

Uncertainty: Existential dread can also take the form of uncertainty. People can find it extremely difficult to cope with the surprises of life. Being uncertain about important outcomes can fill a person with dread and fear. A person can’t always obtain answers when they want them. Waiting to experience the future can be hard for people who have anxiety-related conditions. Dealing with anxiety is a difficult aspect of anxiety and panic disorders. 

Even though existential dread is a common experience, it’s usually a passing thought or series of thoughts. However, when a person’s existential dread persists, they should seek help. Therapists can help clients put their fears in perspective and develop a plan for coping with their dread in healthy ways. 

How Life Transitions Contribute to Existential Dread

what is existential dread

Reaching certain milestones or transitions in life is often linked to periods of existential dread. Reaching a certain birthday such as 50 can be difficult for people and trigger existential dread. A death in the family, a diagnosis of illness, or the loss of a job can also trigger feelings of dread that persist. While some people experience existential dread as a passing thought, others may struggle to cope with it for a long period. 

Major life crises are major stressors. Any stressor can trigger anxiety or other mental and behavioral conditions. The difficulty with existential dread is that it’s tough to resolve. Finding meaning in life or making peace with the idea of death often takes time. That’s why it’s helpful to get support at WhiteSands. Talking issues over with a counselor or therapist can bring relief and help clients create strategies for managing their existential dread. 

The Role of Community: Sharing and Easing Existential Concerns

Community can help people cope with the crises in life–even those that trigger existential dread. A community like WhiteSands is geared toward psychological healing. During individual counseling sessions and peer group therapy, clients can share their thoughts, which tends to be highly therapeutic. Sharing during therapy can ease existential concerns. Clients can learn how others cope with their crisis moments and feelings of intense anxiety and dread. 

Group therapy is a helpful part of addiction treatment and mental health treatment. At WhiteSands, we offer both individual therapy and group counseling. We foster a caring and supportive environment where clients can share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Privacy is respected. All clients are treated with dignity and respect. 

Group therapy is just one aspect of treatment. Peer group meetings offer a supportive environment for clients, but one-on-one counseling can also help. Clients can work with their therapists to develop positive coping strategies for their anxiety and existential dread concerns. They can get the professional support they need to manage their condition effectively and get help dealing with difficult periods in life. 

Why Seeking Help for Existential Dread Is Vital 

Coping with existential dread alone is difficult. When existential thoughts trigger bouts of anxiety, it’s important to meet with mental health professionals for help. WhiteSands features highly trained, licensed, and experienced clinicians who specialize in mental health and behavioral health treatment. Typically, clients benefit from therapy and, sometimes, from medication management. 

Existential dread can trigger profound worries. These worries can be overwhelming and seem impossible to rein in. However, with optimum treatment, people can tame their worries and manage their anxiety effectively. If you are experiencing existential dread that you can’t seem to be free of, contact WhiteSands for help. With treatment, you can get the support you need to contend with your existential dread and difficult aspects of life. 

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

Jackie has been involved in the substance abuse and addiction treatment sector for over five years and this is something that she is truly eager about. She has a passion for writing and continuously works to create informative pieces that not only educate and inform the public about the disease of addiction but also provide solutions for those who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse.