Does the thought of contracting an illness from one of the following situations cause you massive anxiety? Being in the same room as someone who sneezes, using a public toilet, doctors waiting rooms, trains, swimming pools, restaurants…I could go on.
Well, for some people the thought of having to be in one of those scenarios causes a huge amount of stress. This is because they can’t help thinking about being contaminated by all the horrible bugs that live in these places. If you are one of these people you are suffering from a genuine condition called Mysophobia.
The definition of Mysophobia is a pathological fear of contamination and germs. A sufferers reaction to the thought of being infected can cause extremely severe symptoms. A mysophobe could suffer shortness of breath, dizziness, trembling, sweating, accelerated heart rate, chest pain, nausea and panic attacks.
This disorder is not just a mild dislike of the thought of germs, this condition can have a major impact on your life. It can affect daily routines, the most obvious one being washing your hands.
Leonardo DiCaprio played American business tycoon, Howard Hughes, in the 2004 epic The Aviator. Hughes was known to suffer from the condition. Here’s a scene from the film to give you an idea of what kind of impact it can have on your life:
As a result of the condition people often avoid people, places or things in an attempt to escape contamination. If the phobia persists over a long period of time it can have a major affect on peoples health, mood, work and relationships.
Misophobia can be triggered by a traumatic event in somebodies life, or could just arise for no apparent reason. The condition is closely associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, the difference is that those who have OCD have developed stringent routines as a coping mechanism. People with Mysphobia just avoid all possible situations in which they might come into contact with germs.
But is there a way of treating Mysophobia? I hear you ask. Luckily, there are a variety of treatments available to those who suffer from the condition. The most successful seems to be cognitive-behavioral therapy, more commonly known as exposure therapy. There are some medications available, however they only alleviate severe symptoms for those at the high end of the Mysophbia spectrum.
Sufferers can help themselves by practising relaxation techniques and learning to identify potential triggers. If you fail to irradiate the disorder in can lead to serious mental health conditions like depression. Treating a phobia takes a long time, but if you do manage to win the battle it can have a majorly positive affect on your life.