People who need to be surrounded by other people at all times, the sort who like to go to parties, to be with friends all the time, and demand attention from their loved ones, are sufferers from ‘being alone fear’.
This is not to say that those who feel comfortable in the company of others are all sufferers. But those who cannot bear to be alone, those who can’t exist without people about them, those who have irrational fear and panic attacks when alone, these are the sufferers from fear of being alone or autophobia.
The medical dictionary definition is ‘an abnormal and persistent fear of loneliness’. Sufferers from autophobia may experience anxiety even though they realize that solitude does not threaten their well-being.
They may worry about being ignored or unloved, and their worries may develop into fears of intruders, strange noises or the possibility of encroaching illness. These are some of the physiological symptoms that sufferers experience when left alone:
- The patient shudders or shakes, sometimes violently.
- There are symptoms of sweating, dry mouth, rapid heartbeat and/or nausea.
- There is an inability to speak or think clearly, or a distancing from reality or an anxiety attack.
- The patient cannot breathe properly or has asthma like symptoms.
- There is a sudden or irrational fear of being about to die at any moment.
- The victims of this phobic condition lack confidence.
- They are unable to stay alone anywhere or any time.
- They can suffer harmful panic attacks.
If you are a victim of autophobia, you might wonder how this particular phobia developed. It may be the case that when you were a child your parents locked you in a room as a punishment and consequently you underwent a trauma. It may have been some other similar incident when you were trapped or isolated alone.
Now, to get rid of that past unpleasant memory, you avoid being alone all the time. This phobia prevents you from going alone to an isolated place and you always crave busy streets, public places and markets. And it can turn out to be much worse than just fear.
Most people want to enter a relationship because they don’t want to be lonely. However, when the basis of a relationship is fear, as is often the case for sufferers of autophobia, the bond between the partners is likely to be unhappy and unfulfilling in the long run. Autophobia can be treated – but be careful. There are many drugs or pharmaceutical products on the market, either off the shelf or by prescription. However, these so-called cures are not always effective. They have side effects and cannot guarantee a permanent cure of the condition.
The best and most effective course of action, in my experience, is cognitive therapy, which along with other forms of therapeutic treatment, are the only sure cures for autophobia.
The fear of being alone does have a terrible impact on people and their families. However, in most cases the problem can easily be treated with therapy and patience.