NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It seems like everybody depends on their cell phones these days, in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy people were desperate to keep their mobile devices charged.
But, for some people mobile dependence is taking over their lives and a fear of being without their phones is leading to a cellular obsession.
“I do get very anxious and nervous when I don’t have my phone. I feel like totally lost without it. It’s kind of embarrassing to say but it goes with me in the bath, it goes with me in the shower,” Mary Helen Beatificato told CBS 2’s Maurice Dubois.
Beatificato said without her cell phones she is lost.
“I manage at least two cell phones from the moment I get up in the morning and when I’m sleeping my hand is on my phone, literally,” she said.
Mary Helen suffers from a new disorder called nomophobia, an abbreviation for “No Mobile Phone Phobia.” It describes people who are afraid to be without their phones.
“People with nomophobia actually experience feelings of fear, anxiety and some people actually report panic just at the thought of not having their phone,” explained clinical psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Waterman.
Multiple studies have shown that more than half of those surveyed experienced some type of severe anxiety without their phone.
Waterman said she treats the condition by helping people change their behavior.
“We teach them how to tolerate the distress they’re feeling for not having access to the phone and, therefore, no connectivity to their family, friends, work life and information, ” she said.
For many patients the adjustment is difficult.
“I’m very angry. They removed my phone,” said Christiana Ike.
Ike is one of Dr. Waterman’s patients. She said she became obsessed with cell phones after a dead battery prevented her from calling for help during an assault. Since then she has carried three phones.
“I feel like it’s kind of my security blanket,” Ike said.
With hard work patients can overcome their obsession, but first they have to learn a variety of coping skills, Waterman said..
“Relaxation, deep breathing, cognitive restructuring, all of those skills can be applied to any area of the person’s life,” Waterman said.
Experts also believe that nomophobia may be a signal that a patient has a bigger emotional or psychological issue.
How do you handle life without a cell phone? Let us know in our comments section below…