Some people have an intense, irrational fear of being alone – a condition called monophobia or autophobia. This phobia can adversely affect your life by making you anxious that loved ones will someday abandon you. You can also experience monophobia when you are with other people. Instead of enjoying your time with friends and family and living in the moment, you may spend the entire get-together worrying about how sad you’ll feel when you are by yourself again.
Loneliness vs. Monophobia
Many people experience occasional periods of loneliness and isolation. According to one study conducted by Harvard University, 36% of all Americans report feeling serious loneliness. If you are part of this statistic, you don’t necessarily have monophobia, but you probably feel unhappy because you lack meaningful, mutually beneficial social connections.
If your fear of being alone becomes a phobia, you will become agitated, anxious or frightened when you think about being all by yourself – regardless of how many quality relationships you have. In other words, people with monophobia fear a future in which they are alone.
Who Is at Risk for Monophobia?
Phobias fall under the broader category of anxiety disorders. As with other mental health conditions, risk factors for phobias include your family history and environment. If your relatives have struggled with their mental health, the odds are higher that you will develop a similar issue. Likewise, growing up with a parent who doesn’t model healthy coping behavior may not give you many examples of how to constructively deal with your problems.
There’s also a link between monophobia and conditions like these.
- Borderline personality disorder: People with BPD fear rejection and abandonment, and have trouble with emotional regulation.
- Dependent personality disorder: DPD involves a need for others to take care of you and make daily decisions on your behalf. You may be afraid to be alone because you are not self-sufficient.
- Other phobias: People with autophobia may have other phobias like agoraphobia, which is an irrational fear of being in public places. If agoraphobia traps you inside your home, your relationships can suffer.
- Panic disorder: Panic attacks cause a racing heart rate, chest pain, shallow breathing, shaking and other alarming symptoms that may feel like a heart attack. A doctor can diagnose you with panic disorder if you have frequent panic attacks.
- Substance use disorder: Many mental illnesses arise alongside a worsening addiction, and vice versa.
Why Do I Have a Fear of Being Alone?
Often, phobias trace back to childhood trauma. Possible monophobia causes include:
- Experiencing abandonment or neglect from the adults around you
- Losing a parent to divorce or death at an early age
- Getting lost or separated from family and friends in a crowd or other public setting
- Having a panic attack, injury or another emergency – like a home break-in or mugging – without someone to help
- Lacking support to help you process a traumatic incident
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