Telephone phobia is marked by an unreasonable and extreme fear of taking or making phone calls. While many people may encounter phone calls that will naturally make them nervous (such as a telephone job interview or a call from a doctor), someone with a telephone phobia actually has a deep-rooted social phobia or social anxiety disorder that makes most or every phone conversation a source of fear or angst.
Like phobias related to speaking in front of a crowd, people with telephone phobia fear that they will make a fool of themselves when speaking on the phone. As a result, they rely completely on having others answer their calls for them, as well as their answering machines. The phobia may also stem from a fear that the phobic will receive bad news over the phone, or that he or she will get drawn into a highly uncomfortable conversation.
Symptoms of Telephone Phobia
Identifying phobias such as telephone phobia may be easy. Like other social disorders, if the sufferer begins to exhibit the following symptoms when presented with the source of fear, he or she may have a genuine phobia. Some of these symptoms are:
- Feelings of dread or panic
- Automatic or uncontrollable reactions
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme avoidance
Causes of Telephone Phobia
Like other phobias, there is no universally specific cause. Rather, unique and specific troubling early experiences are usually to blame for such disorders. In regards to telephone phobia, some of these experiences could include receiving troubling information via telephone, or simply a social phobia stemming from various traumatic occurrences. This is why the reasons for the development of the phobia are so much more important in treatment than simply addressing the symptoms. Disorders such as this one are common with people who have other conditions such as bipolar disorder.
Treatment of Telephone Phobia
Treatment for the disorder is usually best left to a mental health practitioner. The goal of any such expert is to first target the initial inciting factor that caused the person’s irrational and extreme fear. The patient and therapist talk about why the fear is unfounded, how they can come to terms with any traumatic experiences that caused the phobia, as well as ways to deal with the symptoms of the condition. This type of therapy is usually very effective, with a vast majority of patients completely overcoming or successfully coping with telephone phobia symptom-free for years, if not for the remainder of their lives.
Some therapists opt to use cognitive behavioral therapy. With this type of treatment, the patient meets with the therapist, and in a systematic and gradual progression, confronts the source of fear while learning to control the physical and mental reactions to it. By facing the phobia head on, the patient becomes accustomed to it and thus ultimately realizes that his or her initial fears were not grounded in real or imminent danger.
If you are searching for help with telephone phobia, finding it is quite easy. There are plenty of therapists and peer groups willing to help not only with the disorder but also the psychological difficulties attendant with it. If self-help is not working, do not hesitate to reach out to these resources for support.
- American Psychiatric Association – info about phobias in general, causes, treatment.
- Wikipedia – Definition of telephone phobia, symptoms, stats and possible attendant disorders.