Bacteriophobia or mysophobia, as it is referred to within medical circles, is an irrational fear of dirt and contamination which is a little more extreme than being a devout practitioner of good hygiene.
Those who live with the disorder have been known to find ingenious ways to mask their undying love for antibacterial products and tempering the panic that usually comes upon discovery of the latest superbug.
Bacteriophobia manifests itself through physical and mental symptoms which upon facing triggers, include: shortness of breath, dry mouth, rapid heartbeat and trembling.
In rare instances, bacteriophobia is misdiagnosed as depression, ADHD or even bipolar disorder. The reason may lie in how the disorder presents itself with emotional symptoms.
Feelings of dread, terror, panic and other negative emotions that come with generalized anxiety are tell- tale signs that germs pose a bigger threat than normal. If you experience a compulsion to obsessively clean familiar surfaces or go out of your way to avoid skin to skin contact in public spaces along with one or more of the above mentioned physical and mental symptoms then there is a chance you are one of many sufferers of the very nuanced condition.
At this point, you may have already diagnosed yourself with bacteriophobia; but before you go off into the interwebs, set an appointment with your general physician to discuss possible treatment options.
If you or a loved one fall along the spectrum of this or any phobia in particular, it is important to seek medical attention. You will then be able to decide whether therapy, and or prescription medication is best with the guidance of a professional.
Treatment options include:
Relaxation training stems from Cognitive Behavior Therapy as it helps the sufferer to collect their thoughts, feelings, and behavior which ultimately result in an overall drop in feelings of anxiety. In fact, in Cognitive Behavior Therapy, relaxation training is often the first intervention.
Psychotherapy is used to treat over 85 conditions which consists primarily of both verbal and nonverbal techniques in communication as well as expert intervention depending on the need of the person in treatment.
Other Treatment Options
If the thought of sitting face to face with a stranger proves too much, there are other ways to seek help. Medication and homeopathic treatment should always be done after advice from a professional.
Homeopathic options are vast and may also include taking chamomile as a supplement. Exercise can also be your greatest ally. Multiple studies have shown the numerous benefits associated with consistent physical activity three or more times a week. Find what works for you: running, yoga or even a quick hour in the gym can prove very beneficial to your overall mental and physical well- being.
Medication should always be taken under the guidance of a doctor. Be sure to ask about side effects before you decide on what best works for you and your body.