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What Causes Autophobia and How To Cope With Its Symptoms? | Difference Between Loneliness and Autophobia

About Autophobia:

Autophobia refers to a psychological condition in which an individual has fear of being alone or feeling lonely. People with Autophobia tend to experience severe anxiety even if they are left alone at home or any place that is considered safe for them. These people are afraid of them having to deal with intruders. They also have a sense of being unwanted or unloved. People with Autophobia also are scared of developing medical conditions due to loneliness. They become scared of any sound or noise that may be caused due to any reason.[1]

The episode of severe anxiety is not due to any actual threat to the individual and some people even know that their fears are irrational but still are not able to cope up with the symptoms. Autophobia affects their normal activities of daily living as long as they are alone; however, once they get company their anxiety symptoms calm down significantly.[1]

To deal with these acute symptoms of Autophobia, many people resort to substance abuse in the form of recreational drugs or alcohol. This does not get rid of the anxiety caused due to being alone but many patients feel that this is a way of getting rid of the symptoms caused by Autophobia.[1]

In many cases however, substance abuse worsens the level of anxiety that the individual has due to being alone and also complicates the picture indicating the need for immediate treatment. This is especially true for those people who get addicted to drugs or alcohol. This article highlights some of the potential causes of Autophobia and different ways to cope with the symptoms of it.[1]

Difference Between Loneliness and Autophobia

To understand the causes of Autophobia, it is important to understand the difference between Autophobia and loneliness. These two are totally different entities. Loneliness occurs when an individual has limited interaction with outside world and is socially withdrawn. In some cases, an individual may feel lonely even where there are other people with them. This happens because the individual may not be able to connect with other people around him. This becomes a valid reason for them to feel sad.[2]

However, the fear that is caused due to Autophobia is completely irrational and is normally triggered just by the thought of being alone and not having anyone around. This fear may be triggered even in an environment that is familiar to the patient such as home or school. Another marked difference between loneliness and Autophobia is that while loneliness is not a medical condition, Autophobia is a recognized psychological condition which needs treatment for control of symptoms.[2]

What Causes Autophobia?

Coming to the causes of Autophobia, there is no clear cut cause for this condition. This may be due to the limited data that is available in the literature on Autophobia. Some studies suggest that bad experiences in childhood may act as a trigger for symptoms seen in people with Autophobia.[2]

A fear of abandonment is something which is always in the mind of people with this condition. However, there is no concrete evidence supporting this theory in the studies that are available. Some of the examples of an individual having Autophobia is parents getting separated during childhood with the future of the child seemingly uncertain.[2]

How to Cope with the Symptoms of Autophobia?

There are various treatment strategies available for people with Autophobia. This includes:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This has been an effective strategy to treat anxiety disorders. This therapy involves making use of practical techniques to cope up with the symptoms of anxiety as a result of spending time alone. Studies suggest that around 75% people with different types of phobia successfully are able to control their symptoms and even overcome their fear with this therapy.[2]

Exposure Therapy: This has been the most preferred form of treatment for phobias and anxiety. People with Autophobia will try as hard as possible to avoid situations that may escalate their symptoms. What Exposure Therapy does is expose the individuals gradually to the environment they are scared of. By doing this in a controlled manner increases the tolerance level of the patient and ultimately gets rid of the fear of being alone.[2]

Medications: In some severe cases, medications may have to be introduced along with therapy to calm down the symptoms of Autophobia. The medications of choice include beta-blockers which inhibit the effects of adrenaline that is released when an individual gets anxious. Benzodiazepines also are quite effective in treating anxiety; however, they have severe addiction potential and hence are only prescribed by physicians for a short period of time or in extreme cases.[2]

In conclusion, Autophobia is a condition in which an individual is afraid of staying alone. The root cause of this condition is not well understood but a disturbed childhood or feeling of abandonment has been suggested as potential causes. Most of the people tend to find ways of coping with the symptoms of Autophobia with the overall prognosis being extremely good.[1, 2]

However, this will require the patient to consult with a psychologist or a psychiatrist and openly relate his or her fears so that the best treatment plan can be formulated. Once the treatment begins, there is a high likelihood that the anxiety caused by the patient staying alone will reduce and in fact go away completely. For this to happen, it is vital for the patient to follow the instructions of the physician diligently to be able to cope with the symptoms of Autophobia.[1, 2]


Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 4, 2023

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