Stygiophobia – The Fear of Hell

The Fear of Hell Explained

Does the thought of hell or its possible existence leave you in a state of panic or weariness? Do you get sweaty and fidgety just thinking about it? Do nightmares of hell wake you in the night? Well, you’re not alone.

Many people, especially those who are religiously inclined, have a morbid fear-of-going-to-hell phobia. And why wouldn’t they? It’s touted to be the suffering capital of the great beyond. No level of suffering or pain on earth can compare to the kind that is said to occur in hell. No wonder you experience a great deal of anxiety at the thought of the place.

What is the fear of hell called? This phobia is named stygiophobia or hadephobia, is not unconnected to the fear of death that exists in most humans. If the thought of hell keeps you awake at night or distracted during the day, it’s safe to say you are suffering from stygiophobia.

Treatment is possible though. Others who suffer with this phobia have successfully learned to manage it, including those who are devoutly religious. The first step is to learn what your phobia is and what triggered its existence in you.

What Is the Fear of Hell?

Ancient Greek mythology, the Bible, Quran and many other religious documents all speak of a place called hell. A place where the souls of those who did not live according to certain religious tenets are sent to be tortured for all of eternity.

It is used as a cautionary tool to uphold morality and keep followers obedient to a god. Its counterpart, heaven, is known as a place of abundant goodness and rest, a reward for those who do live according to the dictates of their religion. Scientifically speaking, there is no irrefutable evidence of the existence of this place called hell.

Following the logic of its existence, the only people who could prove or disprove its reality are the dead. It is, therefore, a very peculiar type of phobia. Even though its victims understand there is no proof of its reality, they still can’t seem to shake off their morbid fear of hell.

What this means is that the basis of your fear is based purely on the knowledge you’ve assimilated from the different religious sources that speak of hell. You’ve then built up an unhealthy fear of a place you’re not entirely sure exists. Your fear is very understandable though.

Beyond even religious texts, a quick online search of “hell” leads to the most graphic descriptions of a torture chamber that is as mentally haunting as it is physically grueling. Manned by a devil and his league of demons, their only job is to cause pain and haunt your soul for an eternity.

Honestly, what’s not to fear?

Symptoms of Stygiophobia

As you already know, the mind is a phenomenal entity that can translate even the most baseless scenarios into physical symptoms. Most phobias are both psychologically and physically threatening to your well-being and stygiophobia is no exception.

Physical Symptoms

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Insomnia
  • Extreme theism
  • Panic attacks
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hyperventilating

Psychological Symptoms

  • Depression
  • Bad dreams
  • Constant guilt
  • Restlessness
  • Fear of death
  • Fear of the dark

How to Overcome the Fear of Hell

Thankfully, all hope is not lost. Those with stygiophobia can overcome their fear-of-hell phobia and go on to live a very healthy, fulfilling life.


The following are some of the ways you can help yourself get over your fear-of-going-to-hell anxiety.

  1. Seek Out Survivors
    Many people have overcome stygiophobia. Seek them out. Contact them or join their online community. This will save you from feeling lonely in your pain and you can learn what others who struggled with this fear did or are doing.
  2. Limit Exposure
    If the only thing you get from religious texts or a certain religious environment is fear-mongering and panic-inducing messages, perhaps consider limiting your exposure to such things.
  3. Talk to a Counselor
    You can speak to an experienced counselor who can help you understand that you don’t have to live in perpetual fear of hell.
  4. Help Yourself
    Practice breathing exercises and meditation. Seek out your own truths by studying and asking questions. Develop an innate sense of morality stemming from your personal and social values. You shouldn’t need the threat of hell to encourage you do the right thing.

Professional Help

Beyond self-help, you would need the experience and expertise of a psychotherapist or other mental health specialist. This would enable you access to evidence-based and proven procedures administered by professionals. Expert’s study and prep for cases such as yours, give them a chance to help you. Some methods of professional therapy include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

This procedure is popularly used on those with an anxiety disorders or irrational phobic tendencies. The process ensures that the patient grasps the nature of their phobia from its roots. Broken down into smaller easily digestible units, CBT helps the patient by identifying patterns of thinking that fuel their anxiety and providing them with alternative, healthful routes to mindfulness and mental health.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

This is another procedure used by experts to treat mental disorders, anxiety, and depression. Benefits of this treatment include emotional regulation, mindfulness, cognitive reorientation, stress, and anxiety management.

Speak about your fear to those you trust both within and outside your circle. Seeing a problem through someone else’s eyes can help provide some perspective on what is real or imagined danger.

You Can Work through the Fear of Hell

It’s important to remember that you’re not helpless or powerless in the face of your condition. Like other survivors, you’re capable of doing the mental and physical work needed to live a more rewarding life. The tips above along with prescribed professional therapy are the best ways to go from being a victim of stygiophobia to a survivor.

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