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Diane Moalem
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Nomophobia hits 13 million

19 June 2014, 20:00

We have all experienced that rising panic as you reach down to your pocket and realise your cellphone is missing. No-Mobile-Phobia, nomophobia, is a new-age affliction that is slowly being recognised as a legitimate psychological problem with up to 13 million possible sufferers in Britain, according to a Stewart Fox-Mills study.

Another survey in 2012 by Onepoll and SecurEnvoy of 1000 people found 66% of people suffered from a degree of nomophobia. While mostly affecting young people between 18 and 24, more women were found to show symptoms. Anxiety expert and clinical psychologist, Lee-Ann Hartman says symptoms are similar to other anxiety disorders who experience:

·       -  Panic attacks

·        - Shortness of breath

·         -Nausea

·         -Sweating

·         -Dizziness

·         -Trembling

·         -Chest pain

·         -Elevated heartbeat

Whether you leave your smartphone at home, lose network coverage, your battery dies, you run out of airtime or even switch your cellphone off, these can all be anxiety-inducing situations. Hartman says Western society has created a deeply personal relationship with their mobile phones. The advance of fast-paced technology can become addictive as it creeps into more aspects of your life.

It allows us to connect socially, interpersonally, for business and being without it creates a fear of missing out. Hartman says she has encountered several private patients with these symptoms.

Bragazzi and Puente’s psychological journal article published in 2014 suggests that people are starting to use their smartphones in a pathological way. Affected people tend to search for the best cellphone deals to ensure they are always connected to avoid their nomophobia at all costs. They could use their smartphones as a protective shield, as an object of transition, or even to avoid real-life social communication.

The Bragazzi journal article and Hartman suggest cognitive-behavioural therapy as a possible treatment for the phobia. In contrast, clinical psychologist Kevin Bolon, thinks that nomophobia is a side-effect of existing anxiety disorders such as generalised anxiety disorder or social anxiety disorder.

Many people believe technological advancements that are integrated into our lives have created a level of dependency leading to compulsive disorders and anxiety disorders. Whether nomophobia or other technology-related anxiety disorders will be officially recognised in our fast-paced world remains to be seen, but there is certainly mounting evidence for the existence of nomophobia.

Until then, arm yourself with LTE and a longest-lasting cheap smartphone battery.

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