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Analyzing the Fear of Being Lonely (Autophobia)

autophobia is the  fear of isolation/ Photo By kenchiro168 via Shutterstock

 

For most people, being alone is considered a tragedy. Loneliness can naturally cause sadness for most, but for those affected by autophobia, the mere thought of having to spend time alone for even a short period can cause them great distress and panic. They may find themselves desperately trying to be in the company of others.

 

What is Autophobia?

Tindle and Associates states that autophobia is the fear of loneliness. It is a kind of fear that keeps haunting a person when they feel that no one notices them, that they do not get enough affection or that they do not like themselves.

According to Medical News Today, it is also known as isolophobia, eremophobia or monophobia. It is also noted to be a fear of isolation and being self-centered. It is classified as a specific phobia.  Sometimes, it may also be called the fear of abandonment. It is derived the Greek terms “auto” meaning “self” and “phobos” meaning “fear”.

 

Causes

There is no identified single cause of Autophobia, but many factors may cause a person to have this condition. Fearof.net says that the reasons a person may have an extreme fear of loneliness are:

Childhood trauma

Having this fear may be a result of their parents’ divorce or a death in the family they have witnessed in their childhood. Eventually, in their adulthood, they may form the conclusion that anyone whom they deem important is going to leave them.

The form of  abandonment may either be physical, emotional or financial. When a parent dies, they may have conflicting emotions and may be confronted by many changes in their way of living. For example, they may transfer to a different home and have financial hardships after the death of their parent. This can become very traumatic for them.

Being dependent on another adult

They may also develop this phobia if in their adulthood, they find themselves suddenly emotionally or financially dependent on another adult. When that person leaves or dies, they lose the emotional and financial support they need.

Having adrenal deficiency

Individuals who are inclined to being incredibly anxious or being “high strung” also have higher chances of developing Autophobia.

Symptoms

When a person who suffers from Autophobia anticipates that they may have to be in a circumstance where they will have to be alone, Healthline says these are the symptoms they may exhibit:

1. Frantically worrying about being by themselves

2. Nervous anticipation of what occur when they are alone

3. Wanting to escape the situation of being alone

4. Anxiety from impending loneliness

5. Having a disconnected sensation from their body when alone

 

Exposure Therapy could help in handling  Autophobia / Photo By Antonio Guillem via Shutterstock

 

Treatment

People who are affected by Autophobia can use two modes of treatment to address their phobia. They may seek the assistance of a therapist or take medicines recommended by their doctor.

 

Therapy

The two types of therapy an Autophobia patient may choose to undergo are:

 

Exposure Therapy

This kind of therapy is meant to help treat the avoidance behaviors a person has acquired over the course of their lifetime. It aims eliminate the restrictions the fear has on an individual’s capability to get their daily tasks done.

The therapist will gradually keep exposing them to their phobia gradually. This will be done from a controlled  setting then it will shift to real-life circumstances. Through this constant exposure, the therapist will try to increase their resistance to being by themselves. Everyday, the distance and duration will be increased.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Under Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the therapist will assess how the patient perceives the phobia and teach them effective coping strategies to help them handle being alone more positively. Being subject to this therapy can help them gain confidence and lessen their anxiety when they have to face their fear of being alone.


 

doctors might reccommend sedatives to patient with autophobia/ Photo By Antonio Guillem via Shutterstock

 

Medication

If the therapy is not enough in helping the individual overcome their autophobia, then they may also use medication to minimize the symptoms. With lesser symptoms, they may be treated quicker with psychotherapy. A mental healthcare expert may also suggest medication when the patient starts their treatment. Usually, medicines are only prescribed for certain situations or only for the short term. Some of the medications they may take are:

Beta-blockers

When a person becomes anxious, they produce a lot of adrenaline. The Beta-blockers are prescribed to the patients to keep their body from responding to the adrenaline, which causes them to go into a fight-or-flight mode.

Sedatives

The mental health professional may also advise the patient to take Benzodiazepine sedatives. These drugs will help them calm down by lessening symptoms of their anxiety. Patients should be careful in using this medicine since they may develop an addiction for it.

If the person suffering from autophobia consults a mental health professional so they find the best course of treatment and cooperates by going through the recommended therapy or by taking the medication prescribed, this increases their chances of removing their fear of being alone.

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