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So much for the fabled British stiff upper lip, the stoic fortitude in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity. Seems half the population now has a panic attack if they can't use their cellphones.

A new plague termed "nomo-phobia" ("nomo" being short for "no mobile") is sweeping the land, a study says.

More than half of Britain's cellphone users feel anxious when they lose their mobile phone, run out of battery power or credit or have no network coverage, according to a survey published yesterday.

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Some 58 per cent of men and 48 per cent of women panic when they hit a problem with their cellphone, while 9 per cent of people feel stressed when they turn their mobiles off, it said.

Pollsters YouGov, commissioned by the Post Office, questioned 2,163 people online in March. Stewart Fox-Mills, head of telephony at the Post Office, said a statement: "Nomo-phobia is very real for many people in the U.K. We're all familiar with the stressful situations of everyday life such as moving house, breakups and organizing a family Christmas - but it seems that being out of mobile contact may be the 21st century's contribution to our already manic lives.

"Whether you run out of credit or battery, lose your phone or are in an area with no reception, being phoneless and panicked is a symptom of our 24/7 culture."

Of those polled, 18 per cent ranked being out of mobile-phone contact in their top three most stressful situations; 20 per cent ranked Christmas in the top three; 27 per cent cited going to the dentist; and 28 per cent cited starting a new job.

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Cellphone bellwethers

The survey asked respondents whether they would interrupt various situations to take a call on their mobile phones. The following percentages said they would.

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When in bed alone: 58 per cent

When in bed with someone else: 18 per cent

When eating a meal: 40 per cent

When watching TV: 80 per cent

When shopping: 79 per cent

When spending time with family/children: 48 per cent

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When doing the housework/

gardening: 78 per cent

When in the bathroom/bath/

toilet: 56 per cent

Source: YouGov, U.K. Post Office

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