What is Monophobia or Fear of Being Alone?
Monophobia is a medical condition where an individual develops a fear of being alone. It can occur in human beings and can be hard to overcome. Monophobia or fear of being alone is also referred as isolaphobia or autophobia. People suffering from monophobia or fear of being alone can feel highly insecure and depressed when left alone. Hence, they can struggle with routine activities such as sleeping, going to bathroom alone, eat, etc. Also, they can develop a feeling of hate for friends and family because of leaving them alone.
Being Alone Versus Being Lonely
Nobody likes to be alone, but if a relationship is purely based on fear of being alone, it does not go very long. Such relationships usually become problematic leading to an unfulfilling or unhappy relationship.
A relationship of any kind can only last long only if it is not based on fear. Thus, it is important that a person learns the art of staying alone happily. If a person is not comfortable alone, that person cannot lead a comfortable and normal life. Also, there is always a risk of feeling intimacy with every other person around.
Causes of Monophobia or Fear of Being Alone
There are various causes that might lead to monophobia or fear of being alone. However, the cause in most cases can be linked to some frightening experience during childhood. In other cases, it might cause due to consistent stress, bad relationships, poor socio-economic factors and poor housing.
Recent studies have proved that the feeling of phobia and anxiety is more common in those who cannot learn or develop strategies to cope up with unfavorable situations in life. Anxious parents or relatives raising a child can increase the risk of developing a phobia. They can easily feel anxious and nervous in difficult situations.
People suffering from monophobia or fear of being alone are always short of confidence and self belief to carry out activities alone. They can feel the need to have someone trustworthy around all the time to feel secure. Thus, when they are left alone, they can behave in an unusual manner and panic easily.
Signs and Symptoms of Monophobia or Fear of Being Alone
Monophobia or fear of being alone like all other phobia has some typical emotional and physical symptoms.
Physical signs and symptoms of monophobia or fear of being alone:
- Shaking or trembling feeling is a symptom of monophobia or fear of being alone.
- Feeling of dizziness or lacking ability to stand steady.
- Unusual increase in heart beat rate or palpitations.
- Gastrointestinal distress or nausea.
- Feel like choking.
- Tingling feeling or numbness.
- Extreme sweating.
- Pain in chest and feeling of discomfort.
Other signs and symptoms of monophobia or fear of being alone:
- Fear of able to control yourself.
- Fear of falling off or fainting.
- Creating unreal environment far from reality.
- Hot/cold flashes can be a sign of monophobia or fear of being alone.
- Developing an unreasonable fear of dying.
People suffering from monophobia or fear of being alone can easily develop other types of phobia such as agoraphobia (fear of open/public places) or Thanatophobia (fear of death).
Risk Factors for Monophobia or Fear of Being Alone
Following are some risk factors that can make you more prone to monophobia or fear of being alone:
- Age can be a risk factor for monophobia or fear of being alone. Children are more at risk as compared to adults.
- Phobia in any of the close relatives can easily transform to different types of phobia including monophobia or fear of being alone in an individual.
- Your temperament can lead to monophobia or fear of being alone. An individual who is more sensitive and lacks right temperament to tackle difficult situations have more risk of developing monophobia.
- A traumatic event in the past is also a risk factor. Phobia can also result due to a traumatic event such as being attacked by an animal or getting trapped in elevator.
Complications in Monophobia or Fear of Being Alone
Monophobia or fear of being alone can be hard on an individual and can have a huge impact on lifestyle. It can lead to some serious problems in the life of an individual.
- Depression and anxiety are a possible complication in most individuals suffering from monophobia or fear of being alone.
- Substance abuse is a possible complication. Phobia leads to depression and anxiety that can easily make you prone to substance abuse.
- Some individuals can find it almost impossible to cope up with the fear that can increase the risk of suicide.
Tests to Diagnose Monophobia or Fear of Being Alone
Monophobia or fear of being alone is different and it cannot be determined by any type of lab tests. There are specific diagnostic guidelines including clinical interviews to detect monophobia or fear of being alone. The interview consists of questions related to symptoms and medical history.
Monophobia or fear of being alone is diagnosed on the basis of the diagnostic criteria set by American Psychiatric Association in Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The manual works as a standard to help doctors in determining the condition of patients. It is also used as a standard by insurance companies.
Treatment for Monophobia or Fear of Being Alone
In most cases, people struggling with monophobia or fear of being alone tend to help themselves by developing strategies to cope up with the situation. Psychiatrist/psychologist can also help an individual in coping up with the situation through various therapies including CBT or cognitive behavior therapy, talk therapy, counseling, etc. Cognitive behavior therapy is most effective treatment option that is known to cure 3 out of every 4 patients. Hypnotherapy is another effective therapy against monophobia or fear of being alone.
Medications for monophobia or fear of being alone helps a patient in coping up with the condition, but does not help too much with the fear of being alone. There are various types of medications including anti-depressant medications, anti-anxiety medications and beta-blockers that are recommended by the doctors for people suffering with monophobia or fear of being alone. One also needs to take care of withdrawal symptoms that can arise after you stop taking medications. Thus, it is important to proceed gradually through the transitions phase.
In terms of natural treatment options for monophobia or fear of being alone, breathing and relaxations techniques works best in treating the symptoms of monophobia or fear of being alone. Other natural methods of treatment includes muscle relaxation, mental imagery, soothing self talk, meditation, etc.
There are some therapies such as gradual exposure and desensitization that involves exposing an individual to fear of being alone gradually by using visualizations and images. This prepares a person to face his or her fears well when exposed in real life.
Prevention of Monophobia or Fear of Being Alone
In case of any symptoms of monophobia or fear of being alone, it is important to refer to a psychologist as soon as possible, especially if you have children. Your family members may not cause monophobia or fear of being alone genetically, but watching someone having phobia can create phobia in children. Thus, it becomes even more important to get treatment for phobia and avoid it from passing to children. Even a doctor cannot define a fixed recovery initially, but it can be predicted based on the rate of recovery.
Coping with Monophobia or Fear of Being Alone
Coping from any type of phobia is tough, but with proper professional treatment, you can easily manage the symptoms of phobia. Following methods also help an individual to cope up with symptoms of monophobia or fear of being alone:
- Preparing yourself to face fears. Seek help from your therapists, family and friends to help you face your fears instead of avoiding them.
- Look for Help in order to properly cope with monophobia or fear of being alone. There are various support groups that can help you join hands with other people going through the same fears.
- Follow your medications as prescribed. Stopping to take medicines can result into withdrawal symptoms and thus, you must refer to your doctor before skipping any medication.
- Take care of yourself. You need to keep yourself healthy, both mentally and physically to help yourself fight against the symptoms effectively.
Helping your Child Cope with Monophobia or Fear of Being Alone
It is common to have some fear such as fear of monsters, dark etc… in case of children but most of them can overcome their fears as they grow up. However, if your child is having difficulty in overcoming monophobia or fear of being alone, it is necessary to take help of a doctor. You can also assist your child in coping up with monophobia or fear of being alone by following ways:
- Talking about monophobia or fear of being alone. It can be a big mistake to ignore fear in your children or take them for granted. Instead, talk to your child about their fears and help them to overcome.
- Help your child to face fear instead of running away. As a parent, you need to help your child to face his or her of monophobia or fear of being alone instead or avoiding fears. Support your child by offering gradual exposure to fear.
- Demonstrate your child how to face fears. Children learn quickly by observing and it is important to set up a positive model to help them learn how to face fear and react to it.
Recovery Period/Healing Time for Monophobia or Fear of Being Alone
A person suffering from monophobia or fear of being alone can always recover from his or her fear with proper treatment from experts. Time for recovery depends on the level of anxiety. If the level of anxiety is low or moderate, a person can be treated by adopting a well designed recovery program. In case of high anxiety levels, therapies may not be enough and you would need to take help of medicines for overcoming your fears. Anxiety can be treated by letting an individual face his fears and not running away from them. The time period cannot be defined and can depend on individual’s ability to take up treatment and come out of his fear.