|Nomophobia: Fear of losing mobile contact can be coped with|
|Written by Jenny Jackowski, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Wednesday, 21 March 2012 14:08|
A recent study sponsored by SecurEnvoy, an Internet security company based in the UK, showed that a substantial number of people are hit with anxiety when they lose mobile contact.
Nomophobia, an abbreviation of “no mobile-phone phobia,” is not recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a phobia.
“A phobia is usually a fear that something catastrophic is going to happen if you come in contact with something. It’s usually overwhelming so they’ll do anything to pretty much avoid it,” Terri Prenzler, licensed clinical social worker, said.
Phobias are false messages to the brain that can end up influencing a person’s day to day decisions. However, recognizing an unreasonable fear to be a false message can alleviate some of the hold that fear has.
“It can be debilitating where they can’t go out of their homes. That can be the worst case scenario. They have to quit a job or they can’t find a job because they’re too afraid. It can be something small like a snake or flying and it affects their lives in a way that they avoid maybe traveling,” Prenzler explained.
People with phobias generally recognize that the fear they have is illogical or disproportionate. Despite their awareness, they still feel that fear. Telling someone who is suffering from a phobia that their fears are wrong is not going to help them.
Prenzler explained phobias sometimes manifest from traumatic events that may or may not be directly linked to the fear they develop. For example, someone who had one bad flight and has a predisposition to anxious behavior could develop a phobia of flying.
“In terms of treatment, maybe they’ll visualize the experience in the office. Another would be exposing the person to it gradually, like maybe you’d have a plastic snake in your office, then you’d take a walk on a trail, and you’d go to a zoo,” Prenzler said.
Gradually increasing exposure to a phobia helps a person overcome it. In terms of nomophobia, people who are afraid to be out of mobile contact can pick a time of day to leave their phone off.
“I think you can adapt pretty quickly. I think initially it has a surge of adrenaline, where’s my phone, I need to get it. But your brain realizes that nothing bad is going to happen,” Prenzler said.
Another way to treat a phobia is through cognitive behavior treatment. A patient recognizes that the phobia is a bad thought that is trying to manipulate them. Once they recognize that fear, they label it so that every time it comes up, the fear is seen as a false message.
In the case of obsessive compulsions, when a patient fears something bad will happen, they block the thought and engage in another activity. Having a plan of action or a pattern of helpful habits brings proper attention and control to the fear.
“You book the flight, block the thought, take a medication, bring lots to do on that flight, do breathing exercises to calm yourself physically, and find soothing things to say to yourself,” Prenzler said.