Phone phobia is a problem that not many people talk about, although it can be something that some people with social anxiety disorder contend with on a daily basis.
If you have social anxiety disorder, some of the same anxiety-causing elements of a social situation (speaking first, anticipating someone's response) are present whether you are physically in front of a person or connected to them over a telephone line. Again, a phone fear or true phobia isn't a given for everyone with social anxiety disorder, but it can be an additional concern for some.
Symptoms of Phone PhobiaIf you answer "yes" to any of these, your phone fear may indeed be a phobia,
Before and after calls do you...
- feel extremely anxious when making or receiving calls?
- delay making phone calls due to anxiety?
- worry about bothering the other person?
- worry about what you will say?
- worry about embarrassing yourself?
- avoid making calls or have others call for you?
- obsess what was said after calls?
When on the phone do you...
- have trouble concentrating?
- feel nauseous?
- feel your heart race?
The fear of making and receiving phone calls can be disruptive to both your personal and professional lives. It is important to take phone phobia seriously. Although answering the phone and making calls may seem like a simple task that everyone should be able to do, if you suffer from phone phobia, the anxiety can be terrifying and real.
Examples of Phone PhobiaPaul
Paul is a graphic designer for a publishing firm. Although most of his day is spent on the computer, there are occasions when he must receive calls from other departments or clients to discuss the work that he is doing. Whenever the phone rings, it sets Paul's nerves on edge and his heart starts to race. He worries that he won't know the answer to a question or will say something stupid. As a result, Paul often turns off his ringer so that voice mail picks up, and then agonizes about returning calls later.
Jenny has no trouble making calls to strangers, but has great difficulty calling people that she knows, whether they are friends or casual acquaintances. She always worries that she will be calling at a bad time and that the other person will be short with her as a result. Jenny's fear causes her to procrastinate; she sometimes spends hours dreading making a phone call. After a call, she analyzes everything that was said and worries about what the other person thought of her.
Overcoming Phone Phobia
Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to overcome the fear of using the telephone. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques such as cognitive restructuring and exposure training can be helpful to retrain your thoughts and practice feared behaviors. In addition, self-help coping strategies can help you to maintain the benefits of therapy.
Babbitt RL, Parrish JM. Phone phobia, phact or phantasy? An operant approach to a child's disruptive behavior induced by telephone usage. Journal of Behavioral Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. 1991: 22(2); 123-129.
Suffering From Anxiety. Do you have telephonophobia?. Accessed November 21, 2009.