Nomophobia: The Mobile Phone in Panic Disorder With Agoraphobia
Reducing Phobias or Worsening of Dependence?
Anna Lucia S. King, MSc,* Alexandre M. Valenc¸a, MD, PhD,w and Antonio Egidio Nardi, MD, PhD*
Objective: In this report, we present and discuss a hypothesis for the development, in individuals with panic disorder and agoraphobia, of dependence on his or her mobile phone(MP). Background: This disorder, termed nomophobia, is a result of the development of new technologies. Nomophobia is considered a disorder of the modern world and refers to discomfort or anxiety caused by being out of contact with a MP or computer. It is the pathologic fear of remaining out of touch with technology. Method: We present, the case report of a patient who has continuously kept hisMP with him since 1995 because of his overwhelming need to feel safe and to be able to immediately call emergency services and people he trusts should he feel sick. Result: The patient was treated with medication and cognitivebehavior psychotherapy. He has remained asymptomatic for 4 years. The patient showed signiﬁcant medical improvement in his panic disorder and phobias, but there has been nochange in his nomophobia. Conclusions: The case presented here illustrates the dependence of an individual with panic disorder on his MP. A speciﬁc approach for this dependence should be used in some panic disorder patients. Key Words: mobile phone, dependency, anxiety, cognitivebehavioral therapy, panic (Cog Behav Neurol 2010;23:52–54)
Nomophobia is a disorder of the 21st centuryand denotes discomfort or anxiety when out of mobile phone (MP) or computer contact.1 It is the fear of becoming
Received for publication September 9, 2008; accepted June 29, 2009. From the *Panic and Respiration Laboratory; and wCentro de Ciencias ˆ ´ Medicas da Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF) and Panic and Respiration Laboratory, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, INCT TranslationalMedicine (CNPq). Reprints: Antonio Egidio Nardi, MD, PhD, Laboratory of Panic and Respiration, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, ´ R. Visconde de Piraja 407/702, Rio de Janeiro 22410-003 Brazil (e-mail: email@example.com). Copyright r 2010 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
technologically incommunicable, distant from the MP or not connected to the Web. The word nomophobia was coined inthe United Kingdom from the expression ‘‘no mobile phobia,’’ denoting the phobia of being without a MP.1 Studies2 on technological innovations revealed that computers and the Web become part of our lives, they begin to generate important psychologic transformations. Berger,3 who is currently studying the relationship between new technologies and time, believes the MP is a ‘‘contribution’’ topeople’s evolution in the 21st century. The psychologic impact of a person’s relationship with the MP, among other new technologies, demands a broad, continuous, and parallel study of human behavior, which is constantly changing, in an attempt to follow this evolution. In the case of youth, the main changes associated to this technological progress are related to greater autonomy, freedom, and privacy,greater intimacy in many of their relationships, the rise of diﬀerent forms of interpersonal control, and a greater feeling of safety and of never being alone. Thompson,4 who has studied mass communication media for many years, observed that the MP has also generated confusion between the deﬁnition of public and private. The French research company IPSOS published The Mobility Brazil 2008 Study(‘‘Estudo Mobilidade Brasil 2008’’)5 on the Impact of Mobility on Daily Life. This study evaluated how MPs changed users lives, customs, activities, and behaviors. The company carried out 1000 interviews with people of both sexes, from all social classes and over 16 years of age, in 70 cities and 9 metropolitan regions. The results revealed that 18% of Brazilians stated that they depended on...