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The Fear Of Being Alone


The fear of being alone can make a person feel very insecure, anxious and depressed. If you fear being alone you may become over needy of other people and feel as if you must be around people at all times.  While we all, to varying degrees, need people in our life, if you feel you must have people around all the time then this need is controlling you.

Understanding Monophobia

Known by a number of names - Autophobia, Isolaphobia, Monophobia, and Fear of Being Alone - the problem often significantly effects the quality of life. It can cause a panic attack, keep you apart from loved ones and friends, and play total havoc with a your life. .

Since what is meant by "being alone" may mean very different things to different people, it is critical to evaluate what makes up the person's fear and to what degree this fear controls the person. For example, it is important to note if there are any social elements to the fear, is the fear related to personal violence concerns, and is the focus on one particular person or type of person rather than on the need to have another human being in close proximity.

Generally, a person with a true fear of being alone will find it very difficult or impossible to carry out certain activities. These could be going into crowded or public places, lifts, public transport or simply anywhere away from home where 'escape' or immediate access to help is not possible. The person with monophobia experiences the anxiety of a panic attack and may also have obsessional and depressive symptoms.

Symptoms typically include shortness of breath, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea, and overall feelings of dread, although everyone experiences being alone fear in their own way and may have different symptoms

Causes of Monophobia

The fear of being alone can be caused by by many different things. Maybe you were, or felt, abandoned at some time in life and came to associate being alone with being unloved or neglected. A fear of being alone can be directly related to agoraphobia which tends to reduce self-confidence and the belief that activities can be carried out alone. It can be a short step to a belief that being alone at all is not safe. A person suffering from monophobia might believe that he or she will die or collapse or do something terrible when panic strikes and this too might make having a trustworthy person present seem as if it is essential.

Or maybe you just never learned to be comfortable while alone. Like anything in life, what has been learned can be altered.  You can learn to be better at being alone without being lonely, so you have the choice whether to be with others or not. And when you overcome the fear of being alone, you instantly become more independent and confident as a result.  In fact, there are many advantages to overcoming fear of loneliness. When you are alone you have time to think calmly and there is a special kind of peace you can experience only when alone. Time spent alone sometimes can also make time spent with others even more enjoyable.  Remember that being alone doesn't have to mean being lonely.

Being Alone Versus Being Lonely

One of the main problematic reasons that both men and women get into a relationship, and often the reason they stay in a bad relationship, is a fear of being alone.  And as any good psychologist knows, a relationship that is based on fear is destined to be a very unhappy and unfulfilling relationship.

Until a person can learn to enjoy their own company, they may constantly find themselves getting into relationships that are, or end up, based on fear.  All too often, people who are not comfortable with themselves unknowingly stop themselves from not only being the best person they can be but from experiencing deep levels of intimacy with others as well.

Treatment of Monophobia

The first step is to admit that you have a problem as it relates to others.  But remember, we all have strengths and weakness and hiding your weaknesses often takes up more energy than it does to work to overcome them or learn to live with them.

As with other phobias, a person with a fear of being alone cannot be talked or bullied out of their problem. The anxiety felt by the person with the phobia is not trying to cause a problem, it is mistakenly trying to help by telling the phobic, wrongly, that they are in terrible danger when alone. This anxiety does not have a true intellectual level to it and the way to prove that being alone is not dangerous is by experiencing the fact. This means working out a structured recovery program, like the ones described above, where the phobic is alone for gradually increasing periods.

The most frequently used form of therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and systematic desensitization or exposure therapy. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 75% of people with specific phobias overcome their fears through cognitive-behavioral therapy. 

In desensitization or exposure therapy, you are exposed in a safe and controlled way to the object or situation you fear. The most commonly used exposure therapy involves gradual encounters with the fear-producing object, first in the imagination and then in reality. Through repeated experiences facing your fear, you begin to realize that the situation, while possibly unpleasant, is not harmful. With each exposure, you feel an increasing sense of control over your phobia. This sense of control over the situation and yourself is the most important benefit of exposure therapy. As you become desensitized to your fear, you no longer react with uncontrollable panic when confronted by it.

Relaxation and stress relief techniques are frequently an accompaniment to other therapeutic approaches.  Relaxation techniques may include things like specific ways of breathing, muscle relaxation training, guided mental imagery, or soothing self-talk.

Medication can also be used in the treatment of monophobia.  Drugs do not "cure" a fear of being alone or any other phobia, but they can temporarily suppress the symptoms through chemical interaction.

Hypnotherapy can also be very effective for specific phobias. 

Additional Resources

For more information about monophobia and other mental health problems, please click on the linked websites listed below.

For a list of the many phobias please visit the page List of Phobias.

 American Psychiatric Association
 National Institutes of Mental Health
 Fear of being alone and relationships
 American Psychological Association
 Anxiety Disorders Association of America
 Anxiety care.org on the Fear of being alone - Monophobia

Would You Like Personal Assistance?

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By using very flexible office appointments, telephone consultations, email, teleconferences, and the willingness to travel and meet with you personally in your home, office, or other location,  I can be available to help you anytime and anywhere.

Feel free to contact me now for your free initial consultation. Once you become an existing client, you will be given a  pager  number where you can reach me whenever you need.

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