What is Nomophobia?
Nomophobia or no mobile phone phobia is a group of symptoms in which fear and anxiety are experienced by a person about having no mobile connectivity. Some people do not like the idea of going without a mobile phone while a few get anxious about losing connectivity on their mobile.
In 2019 an article in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary care, it was mentioned that psychological conditions such as social anxiety and panic disorder in a person can lead to the development of nomophobia.(1)
The reason behind the occurrence of Nomophobia is not. According to researchers, nomophobia is less due to phobia or anxiety and more due to addiction.(2) This is why they proposed to change the name of the disorder to smartphone addiction.
Causes of Nomophobia
The exact cause of nomophobia is not yet fully understood. The researchers in 2016 noted that it can be due to the instant communication and gratification that smartphones provide, which can lead to addictive and compulsive behavior.
It is also believed that existing anxiety and phobia can lead to nomophobia.
An article published in 2020 proposed the possible causes of nomophobia included:(3)
- Obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior
- Interpersonal sensitivity, an ability to assess the ability and traits from nonverbal cues
- Number of hours of usage of smartphone in a day.
Symptoms of Nomophobia
The symptoms of nomophobia are similar to other phobias and anxiety disorders. These include:
Treatment of Nomophobia
Nomophobia is not an officially recognized disorder and is also a new disorder. Therefore, no official treatment currently exists for it. Doctors and psychologists recommend treatment options similar to other phobias. There are a few options that a doctor recommends to someone living with nomophobia.
There are various potential behavioral therapies that address fears and beliefs surrounding phobias. These therapies address a person’s fear of losing the mobile phone, not being connected, or the implications of not having phone access. Some behavioral therapies include:
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy: This therapy helps a person in confronting the underlying thoughts that lead to a phobia.
- Desensitization or Exposure Therapy: In this therapy, a person is exposed to his fears. In Nomophobia, during this therapy, the person is exposed to a lack of access to a phone.
- Hypnotherapy: In hypnotherapy, a therapist guides a person through imagery to help them develop self-soothing techniques when confronted with not having a phone around.
There are various support groups that address the fear and anxiety related to not having access to phone.
Medications are prescribed by healthcare professionals that help in treating the symptoms of nomophobia, including anxiety. These medications include clonazepam and tranylcypromine.
Self-care and Practice
Self-care strategies can be practiced by a person to manage phobia. This can include steps to manage phobia:
- Learn about what causes phobia
- Focus on relaxing muscles
- Practicing therapeutic breathing techniques
A study done in 2021 found helping students improve self-esteem was effective as therapy for nomophobia.(4) Relaxation techniques, which involve breathing techniques, exercises, and meditation helped a person in coping with nomophobia and other types of phobias.
When to Connect with a Doctor?
If a person feels that he is having symptoms of nomophobia a doctor should be consulted. If the signs of this disorder are observed in children, the parents should consult a pediatrician. A doctor can refer the person to a psychologist or other specialist to help diagnose and treat the condition.
Nomophobia is a condition in which a person experiences anxiety when his phone is not around or with the thought of losing the smartphone or connectivity. Although this disorder is not officially recognized, a doctor can be consulted for proper treatment and referral.