- Strangers or intruders
- Being unloved or unwanted
- Developing an acute medical issue
- Unexpected or unexplained noises
This overwhelming anxiety is irrational and not based on actual threat, and many patients recognize that there is no basis for their extreme anxiety yet still cannot control their symptoms. They are unable to function normally until they are no longer alone and feel the desperate need to end the solitude as soon as possible.
In order to manage the symptoms of autophobia, many patients turn to drugs and alcohol. Drinking and using drugs rarely makes the anxiety go away, but many believe that it will give them an escape from the uncomfortable feelings. In many cases, however, it can make the level or intensity of anxiety experienced far worse and kick start a whole new set of problems that now must be addressed through treatment, especially once addiction sets in.
Signs and Symptoms: Autophobia
Emotional and mental health issues and physical symptoms can strike when a person living with autophobia is faced with the possibility of being alone. Symptoms of autophobia will vary in combination and intensity but can include:
- Obsessively worrying about being alone or experiencing fears of what could occur while alone
- Feeling detached from one’s body when experiencing solitude
- Physical symptoms that may include shaking, sweating, chest pain, dizziness, heart palpitations, hyperventilating and nausea
- Overwhelming terror
- Intense desire to flee the situation
Additionally, many patients struggle with anticipatory anxiety symptoms characterized by all the same issues experienced when actually in solitude when faced with the possibility of being alone.
Coping with Symptoms
Too often, patients do not seek treatment for specific phobias like autophobia. Because many patients recognize that their fears are unfounded, they may be embarrassed to admit to the problem and discuss the details with a medical professional. They may think that they should be stronger and simply utilize willpower to overcome symptoms. Unfortunately, autophobia, like substance abuse, is a medical disorder that is both physical and mental in nature. As a result, in order to effectively manage symptoms, patients must seek treatment at a program that has the resources to offer them all treatment services that will be effective. These can include:
- Medical treatment. Stabilization of symptoms is often the primary focus. Because they can trigger cravings for drugs and alcohol and are exceedingly uncomfortable, in some cases, it may be necessary to utilize medication and/ or medical assistance when autophobia symptoms occur.
- Exposure therapy. When phobias are an issue, it can be effective to help the patient face their fears head-on in a safe and controlled setting through exposure therapy.
- Group support. Meeting regularly with peers who also struggle with anxiety, phobias, and/ or substance abuse can help the patient to feel less alone in their struggles and allow all involved to share their challenges, give and get advice, and provide one another with support.
- Individual therapy. Working on underlying trauma that may have triggered the phobia and coming up with directed plans to deal with symptoms on a one-on-one basis as well as triggers to drink or get high is a big and ongoing part of recovery.
Find the treatment that will help your loved one cope with all the mental health and substance abuse symptoms they face when you contact us at the phone number listed above.
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton