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Fear of being contaminated with dirt or germs
Information on Mysophobia
Mysophobia, more commonly known as "germaphobia," is a term used to describe one who has a pathological and irrational fear of germs. This phobia is often related to obsessive compulsive disorder because it involves an obsession over cleanliness. Symptoms of mysophobia include an avoidance of "uncleanly" activities, obsessive hand washing and more life debilitating effects such as avoidance of social situations that involve coming into contact with others. Symptoms also include anything associated with panic attacks such as shortness of breath, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, excessive sweating, anxiety, dread, dry mouth, nausea and shaking when exposed to the fear. Those who suffer from mysophobia find it difficult to enjoy life because they are in a constant state of sanitation. The fear with mysophobia lies in the irrational thought that germs, such as the ones that cause the common cold, can be life threatening. A recent increase in the percentage of sufferers in America is thought to be caused by the population's general perception of the world outside our boarders as a dangerous and harmful place. The onset of mysophobia usually occurs in those who have a natural tendency to worry and a family background of anxiety. The disease is associated with a traumatic event involving germs experienced first or even second hand.
Treatments revolve around cognitive therapy and the same types of treatment used for OCD sufferers. Temporary cures can be achieved with medications in the SSRI antidepressant category such as Paxil, Prozac, or Zoloft. However, side effects of these drugs can be numerous and severe. It is best to try cognitive behavioral therapy before taking medications or trying unproven methods such as hypnotherapy, neuro-linguistic programming and energy psychology.