Do You Suffer From Nomophobia?

If you’ve ever felt anxious, stressed or generally jittery because your mobile phone is lost (or has been temporarily misplaced), left at home, out of battery, or for some other reason out of arm’s functional reach, then you might suffer from a mild case of Nomophobia. The term Nomophobia refers to a fear of being out of contact with your phone and is actually an abbreviation of no-mobile-phone-phobia.

The Origins of Nomophobia

The terms was first coined during a 2010 study into mobile phone use, that found nearly 53% of phone users (in the UK) would tend to get anxious that their mobile phone was lost, had run out of battery or had dropped out of network coverage. The study found that 58% of men and 47% of women suffer from this newly coined phobia. More strikingly, the study compared the type of stress that participants experienced was similar to those of ‘wedding day jitters' and trips to the dentist. That’s some serious anxiety.

Nomophobia isn’t an isolated phenomenon in the UK, though; it’s spreading, as one might expect through most industrialised, first-world nations whose citizens are more likely to own a mobile phone than those of the citizens in poorer countries.

In the US, for example, it has been reported that an increasing number of college students shower with their mobile phone. The average adolescent (it is said) would rather lose a pinky than his or her mobile phone. Moreover, about two-thirds of people sleep next to their mobile phone; thirty-four percent admitted to answering their mobile phone while being intimate with their partner; and about 20% of people would rather go without shoes for a week than take a break from their mobile device.

Researchers have said that, in this case, although it’s tempting to start pointing an accusatory finger at the smartphone and more generally modern technology for the ills it is causing, this sort of attachment to the mobile isn’t necessarily a bad thing. "The problem arises when it starts interfering with one’s mental health and psychological well-being" says Caglar Yildirim, a doctoral student in Iowa State’s Human Computer Interaction program.

Take the Test

Although this new condition is one that bears heft and credibility — the root of almost all addictions lies in the person him or herself, not in the action to which he or she is addicted. But there’s no real need to panic if you think you might be a Nomophobiac. Yes, it is now an actual medical condition and yes, it does affect many people in our modern, hyper-connected world. Nevertheless, like most other similar medical conditions, Nomophobia exists on a scale.

Its symptoms can only be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Like all other phobias (a term often used rather flippantly), it’s a matter of degree. Those who are more inclined to become Nomophobic are the type of individuals whose biological, physiological, and psychological makeup are disposed toward addiction which is still only about 10% of the population, suggesting that the stats above use the term Nomophobia loosely.

Treatments for Nomophobia are very limited due to how new a condition it is. As one might expect, however, the treatments that are being used currently are cognitive behavioral therapy and in some cases various pharmaceuticals.