Eminent Psychiatrist Dr Samir Parikh Unpacks the Phobia of Loneliness

Being alone is one of the terrifying feelings, explains Dr Parikh. One should understand what goes in the mind

Vani Malik
Written by: Vani MalikPublished at: Dec 30, 2019
Eminent Psychiatrist Dr Samir Parikh Unpacks the Phobia of Loneliness

All of us human beings by nature are characterised as being social; we have an inherent need to be able to interact and socialise with others to sustain our mental well-being. The thought of being cut off from all means of social contact or communication is indeed terrifying, especially over a prolonged period. Therefore, it would not be uncommon for individuals to develop a phobia about being lonely or alone! In line with this feeling, a specific phobia is characterised by a persistent fear of a particular situation, which in this case would be being alone.

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Reasons Explained By Dr Praikh

There are several genetic, biological, and psychosocial factors which can lead to a phobia. However, specific to the fear of being alone or lonely, a lot of environmental and psychosocial factors at play could be the reason. For instance, the kind of social support systems available to an individual become an essential vector in determining the psychological resilience as well as confidence levels about the social world. The type of social environment we are surrounded by becomes a critical factor in developing one’s social identity as well as persona. And this can become a significant link with one’s perception of loneliness.

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Can Be Commonly Experienced

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What is important to realise is that though loneliness is often feared, it could still be quite commonly experienced. Not just during the phase of old age, but throughout the life span, as there inevitably comes a time when we find ourselves alone and longing for a company. In fact, in today’s times of the digital world taking over our lives, it would not be unexpected for any of us to feel alone or lonely. With the actual number of friends not being determined by real friends, but more so by the number of online friends available in the virtual worlds of social media! We can be together at a dining table, but all of us may be glued to gadgets instead of having a conversation with those sitting across the table.

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Take The First Step To Combat This Phobia

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Therefore, though loneliness often makes us become passive in our efforts, as we may go on waiting for someone else to reach out to us. Instead, we must take the first step in trying to reach out and talk to someone. Moreover, it is essential to be able to overcome our loneliness, as maintaining such feelings could increase our chances of being at risk for depression or even suicide. While a person who has a phobia, is often ridiculed for lack of confidence and courage and may even be snubbed by others, however, if we find yourself unable to cope with loneliness, we must consider approaching a professional to seek their help:

  • Talk to others and seek professional advice.
  • Bust the stigma around mental health and take it as a remedy to get free of anxiety.
  • Do not ignore this to be just a passing thought. Ignoring is not the solution but adds to the cause.

Contributed by Dr Samir Parikh, Director, Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, Fortis Healthcare

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