Monophobia is the extreme or abnormal fear of being alone. Many people as well as animals are known to suffer from monophobia and it is not an easy fear to overcome.
Monophobia is also known by other names such as Isolophobia, Eremophobia or the related phobia Autophobia. It is characterized by extreme insecurity, anxiety and depression when the individual suffering has to be alone, even for short duration. As a result, s/he refuses to sleep, eat or even go to the bathroom alone. People suffering from monophobia are unable to do many simple tasks that most can do easily. The fear of being alone also leads to bad relationships as the individual prefers abuse to being left alone.
Symptoms of Monophobia
As with other types of phobias, the fear of being alone also triggers several physical and emotional symptoms:
- Feeling unsteady, experiencing lightheadedness or dizziness
- Feeling of choking
- Rapid heart rate, palpitations or pounding heart
- Chest pain and discomfort
- Nausea or gastrointestinal distress
- Trembling or shaking
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Inability to distinguish between reality and unreality
- Fear of dying
- Fear of losing control
- Hot/cold flashes
- Fear of fainting
Monophobia is often combined with other kinds of phobias. For example, many people who suffer from Agoraphobia (fear of open/public places) or Thanatophobia (fear of death) may also suffer from Monophobia.
Causes of Monophobia
The fear of being alone can occur due to various reasons. As with most types of phobias, the origins of Monophobia can often be traced to the individual’s childhood wherein one might have had a frightening experience. Long term stress, anxiety, bad relationships, poor housing and other socio-economic factors can also lead to Monophobia.
It has now been established that most anxieties and phobias occur in people who have less well-developed strategies for coping with difficult situations in life. Children raised by anxious relatives/parents are also more likely to suffer from the common kinds of phobias. They inherit the anxiety which makes them react negatively to stressful situations and events.
A person suffering from the true fear of being alone is also likely to lack confidence and belief in the fact that activities can be carried out alone. S/he feels that having a trustworthy person along at all times is essential and failure to do so could lead to death or her/him acting ‘out of control’ when panic-causing situations arise.
Treatment for the fear of being alone
Many individuals suffering from Monophobia develop coping strategies and self-help techniques to help themselves. Alternatively, one can also seek treatment from a psychiatrist/psychologist who can recommend therapies such as talk therapy, cognitive behavior therapy (that is known to cure nearly 75% of people suffering from different phobias) or counseling etc. Hypnotherapy is also effective for treating many kinds of phobias.
Medications generally do not cure one’s fear of being alone; however, short term drug therapy is known to be effective for dealing with the symptoms. Beta blockers, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications etc can be taken under the guidance of a doctor for dealing with stress and panic caused by one’s monophobia. It is important to note that there are many withdrawal symptoms one might experience when weaning off these drugs and the process should be done gradually and under medical supervision.
Relaxation and breathing techniques are the more natural forms of treatments recommended for dealing with the extreme fear of being alone. Guided mental imagery, meditation, deep breathing, muscle relaxation and soothing self talk are some of the effective ways of coping with monophobia.
Likewise, desensitization and gradual exposure therapy also help the individual slowly experience the fear of being alone, first in the form of images and visualization and then in reality. This can help one get desensitized so that s/he no longer reacts with uncontrollable panic when faced with being alone.