Lost your phone and feel your life’s falling apart? You’ve got ‘nomophobia.’

September  18, 2023

Symptoms include trembling, disorientation, tachycardia, and changes to your breathing. If only there was someone you could call …. But that’s the problem, reports The Guardian UK.

Name: Nomophobia.

Age: The term is 15 years old, although the condition is older.

Appearance: Sweaty, anxious, agitated.

It’s a fear of something, I gather. Sort of.

Let me see: is it from the Greek nomos, a fear of the law or legislature? No, it’s panicking about not having your phone.

How does that work? It’s short for “no mobile phone phobia”.

So it’s not even a thing. It may not be a recognized medical term, but it is definitely a thing. As far back as 2008, a study commissioned by the Post Office indicated that 53% of UK mobile users became anxious when they misplaced their phone or lost connectivity.

A country of nomophobes? Yes, although nomophobia isn’t a phobia per se; it’s more akin to a behavioral addiction or an anxiety disorder.

Is it a very British disease? Not really. A recent study across five Middle Eastern universities found high levels of mobile dependence among students.

What causes nomophobia, then? Well, first and foremost, phones. Mobiles are connected to the Internet, making them highly addictive instruments. But it’s also possible that nomophobia could be a symptom of another addiction or anxiety.

What are the symptoms? They include trembling, disorientation, tachycardia, and changes to your breathing.

Thankfully, I never get any of those, because I am never without my phone for even one second. But what if you lost it, or it was stolen, or it broke, or the battery ran out?

I don’t want to talk about that. Do you take your phone to bed with you?

Of course – what if a minor celebrity scandal breaks in the night? Do you look at the screen more than 35 times a day?

Way more. What’s the point of having a phone if you don’t look at it? Given your answers, you exhibit warning signs of nomophobia.

Is there a cure? It may be treated with cognitive behavioral therapy or exposure therapy, where you gradually get accustomed to spending time without your phone.

I don’t like the sound of that one bit. Medication might also play a role, but it wouldn’t treat the root cause of your anxiety.

Which is, in other words, my phone. You need to get rid of it.

From my cold, dead hands. Just breathe.

Do say: “Where the hell is my phone?”

Don’t say: “I texted my GP about my mobile addiction and now he thinks I’m a homophobe. Damn you, autocorrect!”

Research contact: @GuardianUK