Technology can be a blessing but also a curse. These days, most of us are constantly connected through high speed Internet on SmartPhones and/or mobile or tablets devices. Often, when these are taken away from us, we are left feeling a bit lost. Technology can thus also cause a lot of stress. Nomophobia is one such mental illness caused by technology, or lack of it. It is described, simply, as the extreme phobia or fear of being without a mobile phone or without a signal on one’s phone.
This relatively new phobia is known to affect nearly 53% of British men, women and teenagers owning a mobile. The word Nomophobia originates from British urban dictionary and was first used by British experts (My phone ‘no work no mo’) studying a group of test subjects that experienced anxiety attacks at the mere thought of losing their cell phone, or experiencing a weak signal or being kept away (for some reason) from their mobile device.
Causes of Nomophobia
- The fear of being without a mobile phone stems from addiction. When a person feels physically or mentally dependent on anything, s/he cannot find a way of stopping that addiction.
- People tend to experience this phobia when they are insecure, or have lack of self control and discipline, get easily bored or impatient, or have no other recreational hobbies and outlets etc.
- Humans are social animals needing constant companionship and having the desire to talk and connect with others. Therefore, this phobia is not all that unnatural given the fact that cell phones are readily available everywhere and used by people of all ages today.
- A person having had a negative experience upon being left without a cell phone could develop life-long Nomophobia.
Symptoms when you fear being without a mobile device
Like all other phobias, the fear of being without a cell phone can also cause various mental and physical symptoms including:
- Having elevated heart rate, sweaty palms, shallow breathing.
- Most phobics will go to great lengths to protect their phone. They will also keep checking the device every now and then for battery life and/or messages.
- They will never unplug and disconnect. They will ensure charging the battery so as to never be left without a phone. Many are even known to keep multiple phones.
- A majority of phobics experience a full-fledged panic attack when separated from their phone for long periods.
- They might use the phone in any place they deem fit, no matter how inappropriate.
- Their usage of phone often affects their relationships or even gets in the way of their work at school or office. Many Nomophobes are known to be loners or experience problems dating or maintaining relationships.
- Most sufferers of this phobia realize that their fears are irrational and uncalled for; yet they are unable to control themselves. As a result, their health and mental well being also suffers.
Treating the fear of being without a mobile phone phobia
Overcoming this phobia can be challenging and while, medical intervention is not always needed, there are many options available. Gradual exposure therapy and systematic desensitization are known to be the best remedies for this phobia. Other options include hypnotherapy which can get to the bottom of the phobia and eradicate it completely. For worst cases of this phobia, anxiety medication may be required.
The patient must also take steps to overcome his/her fear. This includes developing or practicing self help coping techniques like yoga, positive visualizations, guided meditation, listening to soothing music and /or attending support group therapy sessions. One can learn to overcome panic attacks by practicing deep breathing or indulging in physical activities like aerobic exercise, swimming, dancing etc.
These are some techniques that are known to relieve the extreme fear of being without a mobile phone.