By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Are you addicted to your cell phone? Do you feel anxious when it’s not close by?
It’s a growing condition that’s more than a fixation or a simple cell phone obsession.
“It’s kind of my security blanket”, says Christiana Ike, an admitted phone addict.
Dr. Elizabeth Waterman, a Clinical Psychologist says, “some people actually report panic, just at the thought of not having their phone.”
It’s a condition called “nomophobia” which stands for “No Mobile Phone Phobia.” It’s the fear of being without your cell phone.
“Even when I am sleeping my hand is on my phone” says Mary Helen Beatificato, who is an attorney and mother of two. “Really, as a mom, there are so many things I can do with my cell phone. I can order my school lunches. I can actually look at cameras that are inside my house through applications and check on my children when I’m not there,” says the self-admitted tech junkie, who has two phones and is working through nomophobia. ” It’s not like an ego thing, like I think oh wow everyone just needs me. But its just you, so many people tend to rely upon you,” she says.
Symptoms of nomophobia include: frequently checking your phone, using it in inappropriate places and constantly making sure that the battery is charged.
It’s most common in women 18 to 24 years old.
Doctors say it’s not just a sign of the times. It can be hazardous to your health. Dr. Waterman says, “so somebody with an unhealthy attachment to their phone may have thoughts of I can’t do my day without my phone.”
Doctors say nomophobia is usually not a stand alone problem, but is often connected to a larger disorder. Mary Helen says she now realizes her nomophobia is a sign of anxiety she needs to manage, “the panic and anxiety that I feel during those seconds that seem like minutes and hours is probably not normal.”
Experts say people who have the disorder should force themselves to stay away from their phone for a period of time each day and there are a variety of distraction techniques that can also be helpful.