Even when her husband was in town, Fulloon was on edge. “When he’d leave for work, I would get a little panicky and would look for my neighbor to make sure she was home,” she says. Fulloon underwent therapy and is now able to be on her own comfortably, though because she experienced her first major panic attack in an elevator, she still avoids riding in one alone.
For some monophobes, antianxiety drugs or mood stabilizers can help. But most doctors recommend trying a cognitive behavioral approach first, including weaning the monophobe from her safety person. One day, for example, a patient’s husband might sit in the backseat of the car while she drives. The next, he might drive in a car behind hers, until finally she is able to go it alone. The safety person must learn how to “encourage independence and not feed into the depending,” Albano says. Doctors will also help the patient articulate her specific fears about being alone. The patient can then be taught coping mechanisms.
And as for young Hollywood’s entourage addicts, Pollard says that if these company-craving starlets truly fear being alone, they’re, well, hardly alone in their fear. “We have become less tolerant as a society of solitude,” he says, noting that these days we’re almost never really out of touch. “If all of a sudden we lost our computers, cell phones and BlackBerries, we might all have panic attacks—but we’d do it as a group.”