What's Nomophobia?

                                               Adapted from Pixabay

Most people who own a mobile phone/device have experienced that sinking feeling of realising they don't have it with them. Likewise, mobile owners are familiar with feeling uneasy when they are in an area of no mobile coverage, when they have no credit or their phone has gone flat.
Some information I have read calls this nomophobia. Other sources say nomophobia is an obsessive and compulsive relationship with a mobile and/or an overwhelming fear of being unable to use your mobile, the symptoms being similar to a panic attack.

These days many of us are so used to being able to be contacted, day or night. Some people
need to be contactable because they have sons and daughters who may require assistance or transport. Others have ageing parents or a family member with a disability relying on them. In these situations people do need a way of being contacted 24/7.

Other people have times when they are on call for their job and it is an expectation that they will hear their mobile if work calls. For others it is more that they have become accustomed to receiving texts and calls at all sorts of times. We are also used to being able to contact others any time we want.

Once upon a time almost everyone wore a watch. Now many use their mobile to check the time. The mobile may also serve as an alarm clock (mine does) and diary (nope, still use a paper diary).

Many depend on their phone to access the internet. Perhaps they look up timetables for public transport. They may use it instead of a street directory and to check bank balances. Where's a good cafe for coffee in this area? What time does that supermarket close today? What a versatile and useful thing the mobile phone is.

Some people frequently check social media sites on their phone. This can become a problem for some and they may fall asleep at night clutching their smartphone. There are those who feel lost without their mobile because it is such a major part of modern life.

Some people feel more than lost. There are those who obsessively check they have their mobile in their pocket. Some constantly check the battery level or feel the need to repeatedly check for messages or missed calls. 
They may suffer physical symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath, fast heart beat, chest pain and profuse sweating at the thought of being without their phone. For these people nomophobia is negatively affecting their health and perhaps their relationships.

It has been suggested nomophobia should be listed as a psychiatric disorder. It is often found in conjunction with another disorder or mental health condition such as anxiety or depression.

Various treatments are available for nomophobia. These include

  • cognitive behaviour therapy,
  • exposure therapy,
  • counselling 
  • group therapy
  • medication
  • deep breathing,yoga or progressive muscle relaxation 
    If you think your relationship with your smartphone is out of control it could be advisable to have a chat to your doctor for a referral to a suitable professional.

    With the ever increasing use of smartphones it seems likely more people will be affected by nomophobia in the future.


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