Autophobia (Fear of Being Alone)

Autophobia, or monophobia, makes you feel extremely anxious when you are alone. This fear of being alone can affect your relationships, social life and career. You may also have a fear of abandonment that stems from a traumatic childhood experience. Psychotherapy (talk therapy) can help you overcome a fear of being alone.

People who have autophobia have an irrational, extreme fear of being alone. A person may experience this fear when they’re alone. Some people may have autophobia even when they are with other people. In this case, the fear centers on worries about isolation. They may feel alone in a crowd.

Is autophobia serious?

Autophobia, or monophobia, is the fear of being alone or lonely. Being alone, even in a usually comforting place like home, can result in severe anxiety for people with this condition.

What is the difference between autophobia and monophobia?

Monophobia is also known as autophobia, eremophobia, and isolophobia. Monophobia is a specific phobia, meaning it involves the fear of a certain situation. When faced with the feeling of being alone, someone with monophobia will experience extreme anxiety.

Is autophobia a mental illness?

Autophobia refers to anxiety triggered by the idea and experience of spending time alone. Autophobia is not an official diagnosis. It does not appear in the manual that clinicians use to diagnose mental health conditions, called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.

What is autophobia (fear of being alone)?

People who have autophobia have an irrational, extreme fear of being alone. A person may experience this fear when they are alone.

Some people may have autophobia even when they are with other people. In this case, the fear centers on worries about isolation. They may feel alone in a crowd. Or they may worry about people leaving them, or having to go home and be alone.

What is autophobia?

Autophobia, or monophobia, is the fear of being alone or lonely. Being alone, even in a usually comforting place like home, can result in severe anxiety for people with this condition. People with autophobia feel they need another person or other people around in order to feel safe. 

Even when a person with autophobia knows they are physically safe, they may live in fear of:

  1. Burglars
  2. Strangers
  3. Being unloved
  4. Being unwanted
  5. Coming down with a sudden medical problem
  6. Hearing unexpected or unexplained noises

Autophobia is an irrational anxiety that develops when a person fears they may end up alone. While there may not be an actual threat of being alone, the person will still be unable to control their symptoms.

The person may be unable to function normally until they no longer feel alone. When they are alone, they may feel a desperate need to end their solitude as soon as they can.

Other terms for fear of being alone include:

  1. Monophobia
  2. Eremophobia
  3. Isolophobia

What’s the difference between fear of being alone and loneliness?

When you are lonely, you feel unhappy or sad about the quantity or quality of social connections in your life.

When you have autophobia, you feel anxious or scared when you are alone or when you think about being alone. You feel this way regardless of how many loved ones and friends are in your life.

How do you know if you have autophobia?

What are autophobia (monophobia) symptoms?

  1. Chills
  2. Dizziness and lightheadedness
  3. Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)
  4. Heart palpitations
  5. Nausea
  6. Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  7. Trembling or shaking
  8. Upset stomach or indigestion (dyspepsia)

What is a phobia?

Phobias are a common anxiety disorder. They cause you to become afraid of something that isn’t truly harmful. Autophobia is a specific phobic disorder. With it, you are fearful about situations where you are alone.

How common is autophobia (monophobia)?

It’s hard knowing exactly how many people have a specific phobia, like autophobia. Many people may keep this fear to themselves or may not recognize they have it. We do know that about 1 in 10 American adults and 1 in 5 teenagers will deal with a specific phobia disorder at some point in their lives, though.

Symptoms and causes

Risk factors for autophobia and specific phobic disorders include:

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) 

People with BPD have an intense fear of being rejected, abandoned or alone. This mental disorder makes it difficult to regulate emotions. The resulting mood swings can be hard on relationships.

Dependent personality disorder (DPD)

DPD causes you to feel incapable of taking care of yourself. You may be afraid to be alone because you feel helpless.

Family history 

Growing up with a parent or loved one who has a phobia or anxiety disorder may make you prone to the same, or different, worries


Specific phobic disorders affect more females than males.


A gene change may make certain people more prone to anxiety disorders and phobias.

Other phobias 

People with autophobia may have other phobias like agoraphobia. With agoraphobia, you may be afraid to leave your house unless someone is with you.

Panic disorder

Panic attacks cause a racing heart rate, non-cardiac chest pain and other symptoms that may feel like a heart attack. Someone with panic disorder may fear having a panic attack while they are alone and no one can help.

Why do you have a fear of being alone?

Phobias often start in childhood. Some people can trace their fear of being alone to a negative or traumatic experience.

Potential autophobia causes include:

  1. Being ignored, uncared for or feeling abandoned.
  2. Divorce or loss of a parent during childhood.
  3. Getting separated from a loved one in a crowd or other public setting.
  4. Having a panic attack, injury or another emergency, like a home break-in or mugging without someone to help.
  5. Witnessing a traumatic incident without someone to support you.

Diagnosis and tests

How is autophobia (monophobia) diagnosed?

Autophobia (monophobia) isn’t a recognized phobic disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Still, a mental health professional like a psychologist can diagnose phobias based on symptoms.

Criteria for a specific phobic disorder diagnosis include:

  1. Fear that persists for at least six months.
  2. Intense feelings of fear or anxiety when you’re alone, despite knowing you aren’t in danger.
  3. Immediate onset of symptoms when you find yourself alone or think about being alone.
  4. Anxiety or fear that causes you to avoid being alone.
  5. Extreme symptoms that interfere with your ability to work and enjoy life.

How is autophobia diagnosed?

Autophobia is a phobia, or fear-based disorder. If you suspect you have autophobia, you should talk with a doctor. They can refer you to a mental health care specialist.

  • When you see a mental health specialist, they will perform a psychological evaluation. They will ask for your medical history to see if a physical problem is affecting your mental health. After that, they will perform a psychological evaluation. This involves asking lots of questions about your daily activities and feelings.
  • Autophobia is considered a situational phobia. This means that the situation of being alone or loneliness causes extreme distress. To be diagnosed with autophobia, your fear of being alone causes you so much anxiety that it interferes with your daily routine.
  • In some cases, people have more than one phobia at a time. It’s possible that you are dealing with more than one phobia, which could be making your autophobia even more challenging to cope with. Talk with your doctor about any other fears you have.

Management and treatment

What is the treatment for autophobia (monophobia)?

Exposure therapy successfully helps most people overcome specific phobic disorders. Your healthcare provider may also use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

These two methods of psychotherapy (talk therapy) focus on:

  1. Relaxation techniques, like deep breathing exercises and meditation, to help you manage symptoms.
  2. Examining the root cause of the fear.
  • Learning ways to counter negative thoughts about being alone so you gradually understand that being alone isn’t scary or dangerous.
  • Slowly getting used to being alone. You may start with a goal of being alone for 15 minutes every day. Then, you can lengthen that time as the weeks progress.

Exposure therapy

  • Exposure therapy treats an avoidance behavior that has developed over time. The goal is for this treatment to improve your quality of life so that your phobias no longer limit what you’re capable of doing in your daily life.
  • Your doctor will re-expose you to the source of your phobia over and over again. They’ll do this first in a controlled setting where you feel safe and eventually will move to a real-life situation.
  • For autophobia, your therapist will work with you toward increasing your tolerance of being left alone for increasing periods of time. It could begin as walking out of your therapist’s office and standing a few yards away for a short period. The distance and time can be increased as you make progress each day.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

In CBT, your therapist will expose you to your phobia. They will also use other techniques that help you learn how to confront and cope with being alone in a more constructive way. They will work with you to examine your pattern of thinking around your phobia.

CBT can give you a sense of confidence when confronting your autophobia. This will help you feel much less overwhelmed the next time you have to confront it.


In most cases, psychotherapy alone is successful in treating autophobia. But medication can sometimes be useful in helping reduce a person’s symptoms so that they can recover through psychotherapy.

  • Your mental health care professional may prescribe medications at the beginning of your treatment. They may also instruct you to use it in specific or infrequent short-term situations.
  • Beta blockers: These drugs block stimulation caused by adrenaline in the body.
  • Sedatives: Benzodiazepine sedatives can help you relax by minimizing the amount of anxiety you feel. These drugs should be used cautiously because they can be addictive. This is especially true in people with a history of drug or alcohol dependence.
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These antidepressant medications are prescribed for phobias as well as anxiety disorders.
  • Anti-anxiety medicines or blood pressure drugs like beta-blockers may help temporarily as you work to overcome the fear of being alone. You might not need medications after you complete therapy.

What’s the outlook for autophobia?

“Being alone” has a different meaning for different people. Some people fear being without a specific person or sometimes any person in close proximity.

  • And the need for proximity varies from person to person. Some people with autophobia feel a need to be in the same room as another person, but being in the same house or building is OK for others.
  • For people with autophobia, the need to be with someone else gets in the way of leading a happy. Productive life because they are constantly living in fear of being alone.
  • If you think you have the symptoms of autophobia, rest assured that there is help out there for you. If you stick to your treatment plan, recovery is possible. Schedule a visit with your primary care doctor or a mental health care professional.
  • With the right combination of treatments, you will better learn to manage and understand your reactions, feelings, and thoughts.

What are the complications of autophobia (monophobia)?

It isn’t practical to expect someone to always be with you. It can affect your self-esteem, career, relationships and social life. You may find yourself staying in an unhealthy or even abusive relationship to avoid being alone. You may demand that friends or family don’t leave, which can harm relationships. Or you may obsessively check up on a partner out of fear of being left.

In addition, autophobia increases your risk for:

  1. Depression
  2. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  3. Substance use disorder

When should you call the doctor?

You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:

  1. Panic attacks
  2. Persistent anxiety that interferes with daily life or sleeping
  3. Signs of depression or substance use problems

What questions should you ask your doctor?

You may want to ask your healthcare provider:

  1. What’s causing this phobia?
  2. What’s the best treatment for me?
  3. Should I try exposure therapy?
  4. How long will I need therapy?
  5. Can medications help?
  6. Should I watch for signs of complications?

Fear of being alone (autophobia, or monophobia) can have a negative impact on your relationships and your ability to work. Phobias are treatable and not something you need to live with. Psychotherapies like exposure therapy and CBT can help you overcome this fear so you can enjoy your own company more.



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