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A lot of people with cell phones have experienced the churning sensation in their stomachs when they realize they’ve lost their phone. For most, it is easy enough to get another and move on, but for others, losing their phone or not having reception truly is a reason for panic. Nomophobia is an overwhelming fear of being out of contact through mobile phone which causes physical side effects such as panic attack, shortness of breath, dizziness, trembling, sweating, accelerated heart rate, chest pain and nausea.
Nomophobia is a relatively new phenomena with a study in the UK concluding that 53 percent of cell phone users will suffer from nomophobia. Some people can get by their phobias easily, like with fear of rats (since they are easily avoidable), but for those who fear being disconnected more than anything, it could be time to seek professional help.
Symptoms of Nomophobia
- If losing a cell phone or cell phone reception causes negative physical symptoms, or one never turns off their phone
- One recognizes that a panic attack is an overreaction to lack of reception or a dead battery
- Obsessively making sure that one has their cell phone or mobile device
- Worry about losing one’s phone is constantly present despite it being in a secure place
- Phobia has persisted over a significant length of time and is affecting one’s health or everyday life
Treatment of Nomophobia
Treatments for phobias can be approached from several different angles such as exposure therapy or medications to treat the worst of the phobia. Using the exposure therapy method slowly exposes the person with their phobia first through the mind in therapy sessions and then in real life situations. For someone afraid of losing their phone, a therapist might ask them to be without it for a certain period of time. Personalized solutions are also possible.
People with nomophobia can try self-help methods to deal with the worst of the symptoms. Getting informed about nomophobia is the first step in overcoming the fear of disconnection. Learning to keep negative thoughts at bay is also helpful as a negative train of thought can invoke the phobia. Lastly, practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga and muscle relaxation can help you deal with the emotional and physical symptoms of a severe phobia.
The development of nomophobia should not come as a surprise, it is simply an extention of the human need for connection. In these modern times of social media, high speed internet and laptops, people feel more connected than ever. However, it is important to be at peace with disconnection as well. Phobia treatment professionals are out there. Getting informed was the first step, next it is important to find a professional who knows how to lead you down the path of recovery.