Hand washing is essential to avoid getting sick or spreading germs to others. However, an abnormal fear of germs is not healthy. Misophobia is an obsessive fear of germs and pollution. This phobia is prevalent today and the COVID-19 virus has not helped. So how do you know if you have misophobia? Here are ten symptoms of this phobia that you should know about.
William A. Hammond first used misophobia in 1879 to describe a patient with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) who repeatedly washed his hands. Misophobia it is the fear of contamination. Sometimes called moral misophobia, those with this phobia have a cleansing ritual due to obsessive thoughts.
What Causes Misophobia?
If you suffer from anxiety and depression or phobias in your family, you are more likely to develop misophobia. It can be triggered by a traumatic event that causes you to unhealthily focus on germs. Experts suggest that in the United States there is an increasing focus on cleanliness, which could be contributing to more cases of misophobia than in the past. People who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are at a higher risk of having this phobia. Their constant and repeated behavior, along with an excessive focus on germs and cleanliness, causes them to wash their hands and clean the house repeatedly. Other things that can contribute to misophobia include:
1 – Your genetics
If your family has a history of OCD behaviors, mental illness, or anxiety disorders, you are at higher risk for misophobia.
Experiencing trauma in childhood, such as a serious illness or accident, can cause misophobia later in life. But not all people who have suffered childhood trauma suffer from misophobia.
3 – Your environment
If you grew up in a family with a father who had misophobia, it could affect him. Have your father wash and disinfect everything Being outside, or having you take a bath when you get home from school because of germs, may cause you to follow suit.
4 – If you suffered abuse or neglect
Another cause of phobias it can be neglect or abuse. Abused children often feel guilty and say that whatever is happening to them is their fault. They may feel dirty and feel like they need to cleanse themselves of bad thoughts or actions.
What are the ten symptoms of misophobia?
You may notice these ten symptoms if you have an unshakable fear of germs.
1 – Avoid places that can have germs
If you struggle with this phobia, you may have a hard time going to places that could harbor germs.
You are knowledgeable enough to know that when people touch things like toilet seats, door handles, or counters, they can spread germs. But his knowledge of germs becomes obsessive.
You can’t stop thinking about all the germs on the toilet seat in the public restroom or on the door handle at the grocery store. Your thoughts grow so big that you avoid going places. Or if you must leave, continuously Wash your hands to prevent contamination.
2 – Wash your hands constantly
Studies show that people with OCD disorders like misophobia have differences in the frontal cortex and the subcortical parts of their brain. These differences lead to compulsive behaviors. The researchers say they want to better understand how these differences occur. If you have misophobia, cleanliness rules your life.
You will take additional measures, such as showering frequently, obsessively washing your hands or using hand sanitizer, examining your food or drink for contamination.
3 – Do not shake hands with people
Fear of germs keeps you from hugging people, shaking hands, or patting them on the back. When someone comes over to shake your hand first, you walk away. This phobia affects your social life.
When your coworkers invite you to have a beer with them after work, you refuse for fear of contamination from touching the bar, the beer glass, or someone sitting too close to you. You feel endless pressure to stay clean.
4 – Avoid crowds of people
Like not touching people, this phobia keeps you from going to church, attending your child’s basketball games, or hanging out with friends at a restaurant. You are afraid of touching things, but you are afraid of breathing the same air as a crowd of people.
5 – Refusing to pet dogs or cats
If you have a pet, you will have to fight obsessive fears of contamination from your pet or contamination from your pet. Your mind goes crazy with worry about things like:
- Can you get sick from having a little dog poop on your hands when you clean up your dog’s waste?
- Can you get sick if your cat sits on a rug, sofa, or chair?
- Will you get sick if your dog gets up in your bed?
- Could your cat have a fatal disease that you can contract?
- Can you get sick if you touch your dog’s mouth?
- Will your cat’s food give you germs?
- Should your dog stay off the grass outside to prevent dirt from getting in?
- If your cat licks you, will you get sick?
Fears of contaminating your pet include:
- What happens if I make my pet sick when I feed him?
- What if the water I give my cat has chemicals in it?
- Should I take my cat outside or will it get sick?
- If I have the flu, can I give it to my cat?
- Will my dirty clothes make my dog sick?
- If I don’t wash my hands enough, will my cat get sick?
If you don’t have a pet, you will be afraid to touch your neighbor or friend’s pet for fear of getting sick from them.
6 – Fear that their children are contaminated
When struggling with the fear of germs, raising your children can be difficult. You may worry when a family member or friend wants to hold your baby. Once your children are in school, you will worry about them getting contaminated with their classmates, on the playground, or on the bus.
You may be overprotective, keeping them inside and making them wash their hands all the time. Having a phobia is hard enough, let alone trying to care for a child. Getting the help you need for your phobia will help you raise your children not to pass on your fears to your children.
7 – I will not share personal things
The fear of germs can make you refuse to share something personal with your partner, children, or friends. You can refuse to share a plate of potato chips with your partner. If your sister asks to borrow your toothbrush, you will refuse for fear of catching germs. You will not let anyone touch the remote control because you are worried about getting sick.
8 – Constantly disinfect your home or work area
Germs are your enemy when you have misophobia, but your fears are not limited to contamination by germs. You will have a long list of things that you are concerned about could contaminate you. Things like:
- Body fluids such as sweat, saliva, mucus, and even tears
- Broken glass
- Unclean-looking people
- Soaps you don’t think clean
9 – I can’t touch the garden soil
Misophobia prevents you from enjoying growing flowers or vegetables in the garden because you are afraid to touch the ground. You may desperately want a garden, and if you wear gloves, it can work. But if dirt gets on his clothes, he’ll go in and shower right away.
10 – Constant change of clothes
The fear of germs will make you obsess over being completely clean, including wearing clean clothing. The obsession with changing clothes and even throwing away clothes that you feel cannot be washed properly is common among people who have misophobia.
Some physical symptoms of misophobia
Those who have misophobia may experience a physical reaction if they believe they have been exposed to germs or contamination. These physical symptoms are similar to an anxiety attack. Symptoms include:
- Accelerated heart
- Chest tightness
- Feeling that you are having trouble breathing.
- Tense muscles
- Feel dizzy
- I can’t relax
Treatment for misophobia
Misophobia is a treatable condition. If you think you may be suffering from a fear of germs, talk to your doctor or naturopath right away. They can help you get a proper diagnosis and treatment. The most common type of treatment for this condition is cognitive-behavioral therapy or medication. Your doctor may suggest that you meet regularly with a therapist to help you overcome the fears of your encounter. These meetings give you the opportunity to talk about your fears and obsessions with another person and learn strategies that will help you release your worries.
Good hand washing is essential to prevent the spread of germs or disease. But having an excessive fear of germs or contamination is not healthy. These fears can control your life and limit your ability to socialize and interact with your friends and family. Today misophobia, fear of germs and contamination are expected, and the spread of the COVID-19 virus has not helped. If you think you may have misophobia, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider to get a proper diagnosis and find the right one. Help you need to enjoy your life without fear..