Mysophobia – Fear of Germs and Contamination
An overwhelming fear of germs can inhibit your ability to function normally in your daily life. Treatment for this disorder may include:
- Psychotherapy to address any underlying issues contributing to your mysophobia.
- Medications, as appropriate
- Exposure therapy, to provide a controlled and safe exposure to germs.
Do you have a hard time trusting food that you don’t prepare yourself due to the fear of contamination? Do you fear germs in public places like buses, hospitals or government buildings? Do you refuse to use public restrooms because you are scared of being exposed to the fluids and germs that others have left behind?
If good hygiene is your primary concern – to the point that you are showering and washing your hands until your skin is cracked and bleeding or you refuse to go to public places – then mysophobia, or the fear of germs, may be a problem for you.
The good news is that specific phobias like mysophobia are highly treatable mental health issues. Would you like to learn more? Contact us today.
*Celebrity Profile: Howie Mandel
Howie Mandel is one of the more famous victims of mysophobia, the fear of germs. He has candidly spoken about his issues with the disorder and the ways in which it manifests in his life. For example, his fear of germs is why he shaves his head and also why he prefers to fist bump the contestants on his game show, Deal or No Deal, rather than shake hands or hug.
The Connection Between Mysophobia and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
It’s not always easy to determine the difference between a phobia of germs, and excessive and repetitive cleaning of oneself and one’s surroundings due to the obsession and compulsive behavior that defines OCD. In some cases, the two are related.
The defining factor is the reason behind the compulsive cleaning or hand-washing behavior. Those with OCD indulge in cleaning because they feel anxious if they don’t perform the action. Those who are living with mysophobia perform the cleaning behavior because they are scared of the germs – and the contamination they feel that they risk if they don’t.
Are You Living With Mysophobia?
How do you know when your interest in avoiding contamination has reached the point of a mysophobia diagnosis? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you avoid public restrooms at all costs?
- Do you wear a mask or gloves in public in order to avoid contamination?
- Do you refuse to leave the house rather than encounter germs?
- Do you clean your house obsessively?
- Do you wash your hands so many times every day that your skin cracks and bleeds?
- Are you unable to work or attend school, go to family gatherings, and other events due to your fear of germs?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it’s worth seeing a psychiatrist who can diagnose your symptoms and let you know whether or not mental health treatment will benefit you. Contact us today to learn more about connecting with a program that can provide you with the diagnostic and treatment help you need to heal.
*Treatment for Phobias Like Mysophobia
Treatment for mysophobia includes:
- Medication. If you are struggling with OCD or anxiety as well as mysophobia, medication may be helpful to your healing process.
- Psychotherapy. Personal therapy can help you to discuss any underlying trauma or other issues that may be reinforcing your fear of germs.
- Exposure therapy. Controlled risk in a safe place may be an appropriate way to learn how to function in the world despite your phobia of germs and contamination.