Nomophobia: How phone separation anxiety is becoming a silent killer

Here’s how your phone is turning you into a zombie.

“I can’t live without you”.Ten years ago, people used to say this to their loved ones. But now, the phrase doesn’t apply to their dear ones as much it applies to their phone. The moment they are separated from their devices, anxiety hits them like a hurricane. Recent research suggests that people suffering from nomophobia, feel lonely without their phones. They have an unhealthy attachment to it. Thus, they isolate themselves from real company.

We spoke to experts Dr Gorav Gupta, psychiatrist and Samhitha Srishaila, psychologist, who explain the symptoms of nomophobia, its harmful effects and ways to deal with it.

You are nomophobic when…

1)If you wake up in the night, every two hours just to check your phone.

2)You check your phone, even when you are having lunch or dinner.

3)You start to panic when your phone is about to run out of battery and you can’t rest until you put it on charging.

4)You feel you’re missing out on life, when there is no signal in your phone.

5) You have an urge to answer your phone no matter how busy you are.

6)You take your phone, even to the washroom.

7)You’ve checked your phone twice while reading this article.

It’s detrimental because…

1) It causes anxiety. People suffering from nomophobia tend to suffer from anxiety when separated from their phones. This causes high blood pressure. It also reduces attention span of an individual, which can harm one’s productivity at work.

2)It’s a colossal waste of time. Recent studies suggest that multi-tasking doesn’t work. You can’t retain and process information while multi-tasking. When you are on your phone constantly, you tend to waste time.

3) It affects your sleep patterns. The blue light emitted from your phone, signals to your brain that it’s time to wake up, and it suppresses melatonin, the hormone responsible for dictating your sleep rhythms.

4) Nomophobic people tend to suffer from skin problems as well. Constant contact with your phone can cause you acne, allergies and dark spots.

5)It affects your relationship with friends and family. It’s considered rude if you constantly check your phone while engaging in a conversation with friends and family. This behaviour can be detrimental at work as it creates an impression that you are distracted.

How to deal with nomophobia

1)Turn your phone off before sleeping and sleep uninterrupted.

2)Customise notifications in your phone. Constant notifications from various apps in your phone are distracting.

3)Delete apps that are not required. Unnecessary apps are also a distraction.

4)Go old-school and wear a watch to check the time rather than your phone.

5)Establish phone free zones for yourself and take phone breaks while working.

6)Spend more time with friends and family rather than your phone and use your phone in a limited capacity when with them.

“One of my patients was a student and was suffering from phone addiction during his/her board exams. The patient used to fight with the parents whenever they used to take the phone away. Eventually, the patient stopped talking to the parents. During the treatment, the patient suffered withdrawal anxiety and depression. Nomophobia is a rampant lifestyle disease on the rise”. – Dr. Gorav Gupta, psychiatrist

Nomophobia has become a disorder of the young. I’ve encountered many cases recently. Kids suffering from nomophobia have difficulty establishing relationships with family and friends. Their social skills tend to suffer. They are used to communicating through their phones and they don’t know how to have face to face conversation. The other problem is that kids also suffer from anxiety, which in their age is not healthy”. – Samhitha Srishaila, psychologist




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