What is ‘nomophobia’, one of the modern world’s newest addictions?
Some of us can live freely without worrying about the location of our mobile phones, and others can't.
Many of us know the sensation of an empty pocket leading to the terrifying feeling of loss when you can't find your phone, many of us don't.
For certain people, the thought of not knowing where your phone is or not having it on your person at all times can cause genuine fear and anxiety. The scientific word for this is nomophobia.
If you get the feeling of ice cold dread just imagining the absence of your phone, you may be experiencing this 21st century phobia.
The phrase is an abbreviation for ‘no-mobile-phone phobia’, coined back in 2008 during a study of anxieties experienced by mobile phone users by the Post Office (random?).
Bear in mind that this study is now 11-years-old, but it discovered that 53 percent of phone users in the UK are anxious when they "lose their mobile phone, run out of battery, or have no network coverage".
NOMOPHOBIA: NO MObile PHone PhoBIA – now with a proposal to include in DSM V. #mobile pic.twitter.com/BlxSBf3Ssj
— (@AssaDoron) May 13, 2019
The phobia is set to be among the largest non-drug addictions of this century, which is staggering.
We can now seemingly carry our entire lives with us in our pocket, whether it's for work, research, medical, business, pleasure, friendship, shopping, maps or just general communication.
While this is incredible advancement, it also means that we've grown to rely on the devices, to the point where some of us even feel chained to them.
More recently, a 2017 YouGov study revealing that 38 percent of teenagers felt they couldn’t last a single day without their smartphone on them.
Nomophobia isn’t currently in the edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but has been proposed as a ‘specific phobia’. It's essentially synonymous with smartphone addiction.
The symptoms of nomophobia are similar to that of other addictions, from dependency to a growing panic psychologically when you're without it for too long, sweating, shaking and heart palpitations.
Addictive behaviour can take it's toll when it comes to emotional and psychological ramifications; low self-esteem, constantly seeking reassurance from phones with social media engagement and a low sense of self-worth.
Treatments include EMDR and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and more scientifically-backed options. Professional help is out there when it comes to nomophobia, believe it or not.
Set yourself small goals, like leaving your phone farther away in terms of proximity and for longer periods. Try giving it to somebody to take care of, a trusted friend or family member.
Log out of social media apps, or even just turn the notifications off. Silence is key, but it's important for you to realise that social media silence doesn't mean loneliness and isolation.
Aim for more human connection, and give yourself breaks from technology by going on walks with friends or going for dinner with family. It's all about reliance and feeling okay with being totally alone.
Hypnotherapy is also becoming an increasingly common way to treat addiction, and acupuncture. Nomophobia is a totally irrational fear, seeing as we've survived without phones before and can do it again.