Fear of loss


The fear of losing loved ones, money, the job, animals and many other things is probably felt by everyone in the course of life. Here it can present itself with clearly fluctuating intensity, from nothing less than an ulterior motive to existential fear of loss.

Fears of loss occur most frequently in the context of relationships, i.e. the fear of losing the beloved partner. The causes of severe fear of loss can be very multifaceted and the fears occur in all phases of life. Since everyone feels fear of loss, it is always a question of the extent to which the fear of loss is pathological or not.

Long-lasting, strong fear of loss, especially in children, can have a significant impact on personality development.

Read more on the subject below: Fear of loss in children


The causes that lead to the emergence of fear of loss are just as diverse as the numerous different objects of this fear (partner, animals, money, ...). However, those affected often report drastic losses that were made during childhood or later, such as the loss of a caregiver, such as the parents, through death or divorce.

In response to this formative experience, there is an excessive fear of further losses, which, however, do not always have to be related to the first experience. The child then no longer has a feeling of security and security and tries to create it himself.

Thus, people with strong fear of loss cling to things in order not to lose them. The impending loss is not perceived as a simple part of life, as is the case with normal fear of loss, but as an existential loss. Fears of loss are therefore always the result of traumatic experiences of loss.


There are no specific psychological tests used in diagnosing fear of loss to prove it. Rather, the diagnosis is made through a detailed psychological conversation in which various signs of excessive fear of loss can be worked out, if these are present.

On the one hand, as a direct consequence of these fears, this includes excessive clinging to things such as the partner or the job. The impending loss is not seen as a normal part of life, but as an existential threat to one's own happiness in life.

Thus, people with pronounced fear of loss react to loss with excessive grief, which can even lead to depression. Furthermore, fear of loss is often associated with a fundamentally pessimistic attitude towards many things.

It is not uncommon for those affected to develop pronounced compulsions to control the lost item. Numerous cases of fear of loss have been described in relationships in which one partner wants to gain maximum control over the other.

What tests are there for fear of loss?

Basically, it must be stated that there are no specific tests with which the presence of fear of loss can be diagnosed, even if numerous such tests are offered on the Internet. The diagnosis of fear of loss is therefore carried out purely through a psychological conversation.

If fear of loss is so extreme that it can turn into panic and take the form of anxiety disorders, this can be determined using specific tests.

Concomitant symptoms

The symptoms of fear of loss can vary greatly depending on the age of the person affected and the extent of this fear. Fears of loss that are already present during childhood mostly relate to the parents. A brief separation from these, such as when visiting kindergarten or school, may then not be possible.

In the later stages of life, however, the pronounced fear of loss is usually accompanied by a fundamentally pessimistic attitude. In addition, patients with excessive fear of loss are more likely to develop depression.

The often existing control compulsions are mostly a reaction to the perceived fears and can take on pathological proportions, including stalking.

Fear of commitment

There is a direct connection between fear of commitment and fear of loss. Fears of loss mainly affect human relationships and are usually the result of the loss of a caregiver. If it is usually the parents at a young age, later life partners can also take on the role of the main reference person.

Thus one must have had and lost relationships in order to develop fear of loss. In addition to the development of fear of loss, this can also lead to fears of commitment. These mostly have the purpose of not having to risk the risk of losing again and thus generally lead to a fear of closer ties.


Patients with pronounced fear of loss have a significantly higher risk of developing depression. This fact is due to several circumstances. On the one hand, the experience of the traumatizing event, which also triggered the fear of loss, can itself lead to the development of depression.

Furthermore, the consequences of fear of loss can also lead to the development of this mental disorder. In addition to the compulsion to control, they can also lead to a withdrawal from social relationships and a lack of drive, which in the worst case can take the form of depression.


The need to control that arises in the context of strong fears of loss can take on significantly different dimensions. Such compulsions usually occur when the fear of loss relates to interpersonal relationships. The attempt is made to control the partner as closely as possible in order to prevent a possible separation or other loss.

The dimensions here range from more pronounced clinging to control acts that can be summarized as stalking. If other things are the subject of fear of loss, for example money, the control compulsions can also take on a different character, such as constant checking of the account balance or the stock values.

How can you overcome fear of loss?

Since pronounced fear of loss can severely restrict everyday life and relationships, attempts should be made to overcome these or at least to alleviate them. In addition to conducting psychotherapy in severe cases, there are numerous other methods to get closer to this goal.

The focus here should initially be on strengthening self-confidence. This gives those affected greater internal security and can thus reduce their fears. But even small changes in everyday life, such as finding a hobby, can already help.

In addition, one should try to identify emerging negative thoughts of loss as such, write them down and try to reproduce them neutrally or even positively.

However, since the cause of many fear of loss is mostly based on traumatic experiences in childhood, it is often useful to use psychotherapeutic therapy in order to identify and treat them.


There are numerous homeopathic remedies that are supposed to improve the symptoms of fear of loss. Which of these remedies is used in the individual patient depends on the quality of the anxiety and the improving and deteriorating factors.

For example, Aurum (D12) is used in patients who, as a result of fear of loss, withdraw from social contacts and have the feeling that their fear has overwhelmed them.

On the other hand, Pulsatilla is used in various degrees of effectiveness, especially in women for whom fear of loss is associated with strong fears of relationships.

Anacardium (D12) is mainly used for fear of loss that is associated with overexertion, as is the case, for example, with fears related to the job.

Can medication help?

Basically, drug therapy for fear of loss should always be the last resort and other therapeutic approaches, such as changes in everyday life or psychotherapy, should be perceived beforehand.

Most of the drugs that are used to treat fear of loss are approved for the treatment of anxiety disorders, to which fear of loss can be attributed above a certain level. It is important that drug therapy should always be accompanied by psychotherapeutic therapy, usually behavioral therapy, as only this can treat the cause of the fear.

Drugs used in the treatment of anxiety disorders include various antidepressants, special anxiety relievers (Anxiolytics), such as buspirone or benzodiazepines. What they all have in common, however, is that they only suppress the symptoms and cannot achieve any healing effects.

Here is an overview of the various antidepressants: Antidepressants - What drugs are there?


The duration of fear of loss can be very variable. This depends on the one hand on the traumatizing experience that led to the development of the fears, but also on the target object of these fears and a possible treatment.

Fears of loss that began in childhood, for example, and are projected onto the partner, can last for decades if left untreated. However, if fear of loss is not very strong, it can resolve itself within a few years because the expected loss has not occurred.

Thus, the general duration of the fears is very difficult to describe and cannot be predicted for the individual patient.

Fear of loss in the child

The development of fear of loss is a very common problem in children.The extent of this fear can, however, be very different and it is important to differentiate between “normal” and excessive fear of loss. For example, children at the beginning of kindergarten almost always complain about being separated from their parents.

However, this behavior usually only lasts for a few days or weeks. However, if this fear is permanent and ultimately leads to the end of kindergarten attendance, there is a suspicion of excessive fear of loss. These can usually be traced back to very early experiences that were traumatic for the child, such as the loss of a parent through divorce or death.

As a compensatory reaction, excessive fear of loss of another caregiver develops. Treating these fears can be difficult. This is due to the fact that the children's fears of loss come true almost every day, even if only for a few hours, for example when attending kindergarten.

Thus, at this point, a very slow weaning from the caregiver is usually necessary in order to reduce the fears. Nevertheless, it makes sense to treat fear of loss that is recognized in childhood as early as possible in order to prevent its impact on personal development.

Parents' fear of loss

Parents' fear of losing their children is also not uncommon. They occur mainly during the beginning of kindergarten and later when the children move into their own home. Often parents' excessive fear of loss can be traced back to the loss of a previous child, such as a miscarriage.

Depending on the level of fear felt, this can have a strong impact on the parent-child relationship and significantly limit the children's degrees of freedom. Here, too, therapy should be considered if the fears begin to affect everyday life and the relationship between parents and children.

Fear of loss in a relationship

Relationships are the most common target of fear of loss. This accumulation is probably due to the fact that most people have been abandoned by one or more partners in the course of their lives, which can then lead to the development of fear of loss.

Fears of loss in relationships can present themselves in many ways. So there can be a feeling of a vague alert, so that those affected always have the feeling that they can lose their partner. This often results in tension and loneliness even though one is in a relationship.

In order to compensate for the fear of loss, however, strong control compulsions and mistrust, in the sense of jealousy, can also arise. It is not always easy to distinguish between normal and excessive fears. The development of fear of loss and its consequences, such as the need to control, can have a strong influence on the relationship and ultimately lead to the loss of the partner itself.

This state of affairs is known as self-fulfilling prophecy. Such a development can further intensify the fear of loss and those affected get into a vicious circle. Therapy is therefore also advisable here in cases of extreme severity.

Fear of loss and jealousy - what is the connection?

Fear of loss and the development of strong jealousy in relationships often occur together. As described above, jealousy can be the direct result of excessive fear of loss.

If such fears are excessive in a partner, distrust can result. The person concerned lives in constant fear of losing their partner. In the case of mistrust, the loss of the partner to another person is seen as a risk, which can then lead to excessive jealousy and have a strong influence on the relationship.

Read our article on this: Jealousy - When is it Too Much?