In tonight's HealthierMe -- Are you addicted to your cell phone? Seriously. It's not a recognized medical problem, and it has a name.
A recent study found that 66% of people show symptoms of what has been dubbed nomophobia, No-Mobile-Phobia, or a fear of being without mobile phone contact. Many of us are nervous about being without our phones at times, sure -- but for some people, being without a phone may actually bring on severe anxiety and even panic attacks.
It's a cell phone society; we are tethered to our cell phones like they're extensions of ourselves. But what happens when your attachment to your phone starts to become a problem?
For Christiana Ike, a nomophobic patient, not having her phone provokes extreme anxiety. Ike recalls, "I remember I was crying, I was angry."
Ike has three phones and carries two phone chargers with her at all times. She even takes her phone with her in the shower.
"I'll have it sitting there on the counter because I'm thinking, 'What if President Obama calls, or the Pope?'" Ike explains. "I don't know why I do that."
Symptoms of nomophobia include:
(1) Panic and anxiety while separated from your phone
(2) Having multiple phones
(3) Compulsive checking of phone for messages, battery life
(4) Using phone in inappropriate places
(5) Phone activity becoming an issue in relationships, work or school
The British survey recently found that as many as 66% of people have some form of nomophobia, and for some people, this can become more serious.
Psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Waterman explains that "for some people who use the phone excessively, we know that the brain is actually responding to the phone as if it is a drug."
For Ike, and for those like her, this affects everyday interactions.
"Unfortunately, I become so attached to communicating with everybody via my iPhone that I become less attached to people who are physically in front of me," Ike tells us, "and that's where it becomes detrimental."
Ike has joined a nomophobia recovery group where she learns how to break her habit.
According to Dr. Waterman, the recovery group helps nomophobia patients learn "how to self-monitor their behaviors, how to identify when their behaviors have become excessive, and how to use coping skills to manage their urges to use the Internet or the phone."
For Christiana Ike, it's a step in the right direction. "As opposed to thinking of myself as being trapped without my phone, I am actually trying to focus on how it can actually be freeing to not have my phone," she says.
If you're concerned that you may have nomophobia, you might be able to help yourself by committing to turn your phone off for a certain amount of time each week.