What is Nomophobia? Symptoms and coping strategies

What is Nomophobia? Symptoms and coping strategies
Written By: Counselling Psychologist
M.Sc. Psychology - Swansea University, UK.
Reviewed By: Counselling Psychologist
MA Psychology Pennsylvania State University, USA
Last Updated: 08-03-2023

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The past decade or so has seen a dramatic increase in the use of mobile phones, particularly since the introduction of smart smartphones, and the pandemic has been a cherry on top. Today, smartphones are a part of our social, professional, recreational, and even family lives. But excessive use can result in dependence, addiction, and fear issues.

While some people may not like the idea of living without their phones for an extended period of time, others may feel panic or anxiety when their mobile phone loses connectivity. Nomophobia is the term for this.

Nomophobia is similar to other mental illnesses linked to the dread of particular items. It also has some similarities to other kinds of anxiety disorders, like a social phobia. The definition of nomophobia, potential causes, remedies, and other information are covered in this article.

According to a study, a person may experience symptoms of potential psychological disorders, such as social anxiety or panic disorder, before developing nomophobia researchers also pointed out that it is still not apparent if the disorder results from a cell phone addiction or an underlying anxiety disorder.

In the twenty-first century, we cannot ignore the influence of contemporary technology. It is changing day by day, and as technology advances, new problems are constantly emerging.

Cell phones are "Perhaps the biggest non-drug addiction of the 21st century”.

Nowadays college students use their phones for more than 9 hours a day, which can become an addiction. It is an illustration of "a contradiction of technology," which has the ability to both liberate people and enslave them, escaping the real world and becoming a slave to the virtual one.

What is Nomophobia?

The United Kingdom (UK) Post Office first used the word "NOMOPHOBIA" in 2008 when conducting a survey for which it hired the UK-based research firm YouGov.

The goal of that study was to determine whether anxiety disorders may be brought on by excessive mobile phone use. According to the survey, 53% of British people who own mobile phones act anxious when they "lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have no network coverage." 58% of men and 47% of women experienced mobile phone anxiety, and 9% of people reported tension even when their phones were off. The main cause of their phobia, according to 55% of the participants, is that they are unable to stay connected with their loved ones. When the stress levels were compared, it was discovered that the anxiety level was comparable to "wedding day jitters."

Nomophobia Statics

Surveys have shown that young adults are more likely to develop a nomophobia addiction. According to another study, the majority of teenagers (77%) expressed concern when they were not able to use their phones. Researchers suggested a list of psychological indicators for suspecting nomophobia in a person, including

  • Self-negative beliefs,
  • Younger age,
  • Low esteem,
  • Self-efficacy,
  • Strong extroversion/introversion,
  • Impulsiveness, and
  • Sense of urgency.

A study on cell phone addiction among medical graduates showed interesting statistics:

  • The majority of students (73%) kept their mobile phones on for a full 24-hour period.
  • 20% of students said they experience stress when their mobile phone’s battery dies, or they are without it.
  • 38.5% of students said they frequently check their mobile phones for calls and messages.
  • 56% of students said they feel safer keeping their phones in their pockets.

According to another research, more than 50% of people with nomophobia never turn off their phones.

Students checked their phones more than 35 times each day in over 77% of cases.

Nomophobia And Academics

Low-grade point averages (GPAs) and higher levels of anxiety have been linked to frequent cell phone use in students. The decline in student GPA may be caused by distraction from excessive mobile phone use in class. The pressure to be constantly linked to social (virtual) networks may make people more anxious since it takes away time from daily stress relief in solitude, which is vital to our well-being.

Nomophobia and Mental Health Disorder

It is known that people who suffer from anxiety and panic disorders are more likely to develop nomophobia. According to a study

  • 44% of individuals with panic disorders reported feeling "comfortable" when they had their mobile phones with them.
  • 46% of the group of healthy people said they would not feel the same without their mobile phones.
  • 68% of all participants said they were dependent on their phones. When their access to mobile phones was restricted, participants with panic disorder reported considerably higher emotional symptoms and dependence on mobile phones compared to the control group.

Symptoms of Nomophobia:

You may experience mental symptoms like:

  • Not being able to switch your phone off
  • Continuously checking your phone for unread emails, texts, or calls
  • Charging your battery even though your phone is nearly full
  • Always having your phone with you, even in the restroom
  • Constantly verifying that you have your phone
  • Worrying about negative things happening and not being able to call for help
  • Missing out on planned events or activities to spend more time on a mobile device
  • If you have to put down your phone or know you will not be able to use it for a while, you may experience anxiety and restlessness
  • The inability to check your phone can cause annoyance and anxiety

You may experience physical symptoms like:

  • Chest tightening
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Increased perspiration
  • Feeling lightheaded, faint, or lost
  • Quick heart rate

What causes Nomophobia?

It is unclear what causes nomophobia exactly. It evolved, as a result of instant communication through cell phones and instant gratification features. This may cause obsessive and addictive behavior to emerge. Others think that the emergence of nomophobia may be caused by an anxiety disorder or phobia that already exists.

Researchers suggested the following as potential causes or indicators in a study:

  • Smartphone-related compulsive behavior, obsessive thinking, and feelings of personal inferiority are examples of interpersonal sensitivity, which is the capacity to evaluate the skills and characteristics of others from non-verbal signs
  • Social awkwardness
  • Daily hours spent using a smartphone

How to know if I have Nomophobia?

It can be beneficial to speak with an online therapist at HopeQure if you can identify some nomophobia traits in yourself. You do not necessarily have nomophobia if you use your phone a lot or worry about losing it. But if you have experienced problems for six months or more, especially if you have any of the above-mentioned symptoms and they are:

  • Continuous throughout the day and frequent.
  • Ruining your relationships or your job.
  • Challenging to get enough rest.
  • Causing issues with your daily routines.
  • Adversely affecting health or quality of life.

No official diagnosis for nomophobia is available at this time, but skilled mental health specialists at HopeQure can see the symptoms of phobia and anxiety and teach you how to deal with them in a healthy way to help you get over them.

How to deal with Nomophobia?

A few positive steps such as parental guidance, values, education, and help from the government laws can assist in handling the increase in Nomophobia rates at a lower but impactful level.

  • Children should be encouraged by their parents to participate in outdoor activities and religious celebrations. They will have more opportunities to interact face-to-face as a result.
  • Parents need to be informed about psychological issues like NOMOPHOBIA.
  • For the prevention and management of such incidents, school authorities should select a counselor and members of a health team.
  • The ban on mobile phones is tightly enforced at many schools and universities.
  • The energy of children needs to be directed creatively. It may be possible to design systems to get them involved in social interactions, trips, and other physical activities.

Treatment and therapy for Nomophobia

Cognitive behavioral therapy The goal of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is to change the unhelpful and illogical thought patterns that lead to unhelpful behaviors.

Reality therapy, often known as the "Reality Approach," is a new and promising therapeutic approach. The client in this therapy is urged to concentrate on activities other than using mobile phones, such as gardening, painting, playing, and so forth. Self-care techniques can be used by an individual on their own.

To deal with their phobia, they can do the following:

  • Find out more about the phobia they have.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation focuses on calming down groups of muscles.
  • Putting therapeutic breathing practices to use.

A study discovered that elevating people’s self-esteem served as a beneficial form of nomophobia therapy.

Learning relaxation techniques might be helpful for someone. To help a person deal with not having a phone or other phobias, this therapy combines breathing exercises, meditation, and exercise.

Coping with Nomophobia

There are steps you may do to manage your device use if you believe you have nomophobia or believe you are using your phone excessively.

Establish limits: Make rules for how you will use your own devices. This can entail refraining from using your phone during specific times of the day, such as meals or right before bed.

Achieve balance: Using your phone to avoid making in-person connections with other people can be far too simple. Try to engage in some one-on-one conversation with individuals every day.

Small breaks: Although breaking the cell phone habit can be difficult, doing it gradually can help. Start off by making small changes, like putting your phone in a different room during meals or when you are doing anything else.

Look for other activities to keep you busy: Try looking for other activities to engage in if you discover that you are using your phone excessively out of boredom. Consider doing something enjoyable like reading a book, taking a stroll, playing a sport, or engaging in a hobby.

Economical and Physical Issues of Nomophobia

Nomophobia can strain the finances of families due to the use of excessive internet, which is extremely expensive. Due to prolonged use, Nomophobia can also cause physical issues like pain in the hands, neck, and elbows.

In public places where cell phone use is prohibited, a typical person may experience anxiety and stress reactions (such as in airports, educational institutions, and workplaces).

Overusing mobile apps like "Amazon," "Flipkart," etc. to make purchases might lead to a person s financial loss. Unless they are nervous and depressed, the ability to stay in touch via a mobile phone gives the person peace of mind and security.


Along with other phobias and behavioral addictions linked to technology use, nomophobia is an increasing issue. It can be a very challenging issue to solve given how dependent many people are on their mobile devices for work, school, news, entertainment, and social connection.

Although completely giving up cell phone use is unachievable, learning how to set limitations and boundaries on how much your phone influences your life can be helpful. Finding distractions to keep you active rather than mindlessly playing on your phone, taking periodic breaks from your phone, and participating in activities apart from it are all smart places to start.

As a person experiences the stages of anxiety and depression, mental health treatments are crucial to their rehabilitation. After attending to the person s immediate health and safety needs, it is advisable to use the available online psychometric tests for psychosocial assessment available at HopeQure. Through online counseling and parental care, it is necessary to assure the psychological recovery of addicts. HopeQure assists a parent or caregiver. HopeQure’s counselors emphasize how to manage worry and tension, and parents are educated on how to do the same.

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