They say that no man is an island. People need people, and in today’s interconnected world brought about by technology, nobody is technically “alone”.
That’s why the fear of being alone or autophobia, seems ironic in these modern times. But just like any other phobias, autophobia is a serious condition where people fear of being left alone or abandoned.
Even in the safety and comfort of their home, autophobic people fear the idea that they are alone and vulnerable. And so it’s important to know, what is autophobia, and what are the signs and symptoms that a person suffers from this condition?
Signs and Symptoms of Autophobia
A person that has autophobia gets a sense of an impending doom. When they’re alone in their house, they fear that an intruder is set to break in and do them harm.
Here are signs and symptoms exhibited by people suffering from autophobia:
- Excessive worrying about being alone
- Intense fear of what might happen to them while alone
- Feeling no connection to one’s body when they’re by themselves
- Shaking, difficulty breathing, sweating, dizziness, chest pain, and palpitations
- Gripped with terror
- Overwhelming desire to flee from the situation
- Palpitations or increased heartbeat
Causes and Common Triggers of Autophobia
There are many assumptions about the causes of autophobia. While there is currently no available scientific data, many believe that autophobia may be caused by childhood experience.
Many doctors believe that most autophobia cases stem from the fear of abandonment by a parent following a divorce. They carry this traumatic experience in their adult lives. They continue to believe that people they love will abandon them just like what their loved ones did.
Death could also be another cause. A death of a parent which results in a drastic change of lifestyle, change of home, and financial difficulties may overwhelm a young child. It may result in a physical and emotional trauma leading to the fear of being alone.
Even in an adult, the fear of abandonment can happen when the person he or she is financially or emotionally dependent, suddenly dies. People with “high strung” personality or overly anxious are more prone to suffer from this phobia.
Treatments of Autophobia
For most phobias, exposure therapy is said to be the most successful. There are several studies conducted about treatments of phobias using imaginal exposure. This means for people with Autophobia, they will be gradually exposed to images of the thing that they fear the most. Based on the same studies, 90% of subjected to the treatment exhibited a considerable fear reduction. And around 65% no longer experienced any symptoms of their phobias.
These are types of medication that block the effects of adrenaline. But these are only prescribed in severe cases since these are highly addictive.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
This is another form of treatment for persons with phobias. It is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve mental health. What it does is it helps the patient to challenge or change their thoughts or beliefs in addressing their problems. This treatment was originally meant to treat depression, but has since been expanded to treat other conditions including anxiety, which is exhibited by autophobic people.
Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT)
In this type of therapy, the patient is given a simulated experience using computer programs and artificially created environments. They use Virtual Reality gadgets to provide the patient a controlled stimuli as part of the treatment. They then monitor the patient’s reaction. It’s a series of VR-based treatment where it involves adjusting the virtual environment. Sometimes smell or adding vibrations allow the clinician to determine the level of the patient's reaction to the stimuli. Replaying virtual scenes multiple times with or without adjustment depending on the patient's reaction.
Societal and Cultural Impact of Autophobia
People who suffer from Autophobia tend to be less trusting of people even with their loved ones. These could result in strained relationships which could lead to negative consequences in the person’s social, personal, and professional relationships.
An autophobic may find himself or herself consistently suspecting a spouse infidelity, even without any valid basis. A parent who suffers from this phobia may prevent his or her child to develop intimate relationships with others. In some cases, a spouse stalks and becomes obsessed with checking up on an ex-spouse after a divorce.
How Common Is Autophobia?
There are no available data as to how many are afflicted with autophobia. Most phobic persons will not admit that they are suffering from this condition so there is no way to know the exact number of autophobics in the world.
However, it is believed to be one of the more common types of phobia which is in the top 30 most common phobias in the world.
What Should You Do If You Have Autophobia?
The best thing to do is seek medical help especially if it already interferes with your daily life. Seeking professional help may help you understand why you developed the extreme fear of being alone.
The treatments we mentioned here have helped a lot of people that have the same condition as you. The first step is to acknowledge that you have a problem and you want to seek help to solve it.
Joining online support groups may also help you cope with your fear. Talking about it and discussing your problems with people who are also in the same situation, should let you know that you are not alone in this world.
Autophobia is one of the most common phobias in the world. While no drug can cure it, therapy treatments can help people with this condition. Since a phobia is an irrational fear of the object or situation in the mind of the sufferer, it’s also the mind that can overcome it.
The best thing to do for anyone with a phobia is to first acknowledge that he or she suffers from it. Support from loved ones will be beneficial, and the healing of strained relationships will make it even easier for the person with autophobia to overcome his or her condition.