Nomophobia: the fear of losing your cellphone

The irrational fear of not having your cellphone within sneezing distance is called nomophobia, and is a lot more common than most people think.

According to, a recent study of 1000 employed people found that 66% of them would be classified as nomophobics.

The study, conducted by Onepoll and sponsored by SecurEnvoy, narrowed the results down to see who was most affected by nomophobia. The results concluded that younger people are the most nomophobic. About 77% of youngsters aged between 18 and 24 and 64% of young adults aged between 25 and 34 are nomophobic.

Another interesting finding was that 41% of the participants said they would get upset if their partners viewed the contents (specifically text messages) of their cellphone without permission. This could possibly also contribute to the phobia developing, in addition to a fear of feeling disconnected.

The study also found that women were more fearful of losing their cellphones than men were.

Phobias are defined as persistent and overwhelming fears and anxieties that affect the everyday living of the sufferer. People are known to avoid something completely in an attempt to protect themselves, for example not going to the doctor due to extreme fear of needles or blood. But not all phobia triggers can be avoided.

Most phobias develop during childhood, and scientists believe phobias are as a result of traumatic life experiences and environmental factors.

Nomophobia may sound trivial, but the effects could become very serious, especially since it’s not an avoidable phobia like arachnophobia (fear of spiders). The symptoms  may include:

  • Panic attacks
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Elevated heartbeat
  • Trembling
  • Chest pain

Losing or leaving your cellphone at home is not the only trigger that leads to fearful feelings. Going into areas with no signal, a dead cell phone battery and even voluntarily switching the cellphone off, could send the sufferer into a panicked frenzy.

According to, some of the signs you can use to spot a nomophobe (or identify yourself as one) include: obsessively looking for their cellphone, worrying about losing their cell phone even though they know it’s in a safe place, or having a panic attack over the lack of reception.

 The treatment for this (or any phobia) include: relaxation therapy e.g. yoga, breathing exercises or muscle relaxation therapies; exposure therapy; medication.

(Health24, Kyle Boshoff, February 2012)

(References: The Sydney Morning Herald,,,,

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