written by: Nicky LaMarco
• edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick
• updated: 6/21/2011
Incessantly washing hands, scrubbing surfaces in the home, and avoiding door handles — that is a peek into the life of someone who has a germ phobia. It's also called spermophobia or mysophobia, and means the sufferer has a certain type of obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD.
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This obsession may be from either a traumatic childhood event or a chemical imbalance. Germ phobia may be mild to severe, from just a general paranoia of germs to looking for them and fearing them constantly in every place, eventually not wanting to leave the house. Luckily, like any phobia, there are treatments.
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Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
This type of treatment focuses the germ phobic person on how we create our worlds based on our choice of words we use. A neuro-linguistic therapist will analyze your choice of words when you describe your fear of germs and specifically your symptoms. A NLP therapist will examine your body language and facial expressions as well. From here, the therapist can analyze the root of your germ phobia and help you adjust your perception of it based on your language choices. You may even be asked to come up with mantras that reassure your mind and body that germs are not as dire or as abundant as you perceive them to be. The theory is that this will in turn adjust your mental state and ease your mind about how serious germs are. Preconceived notions are very powerful in the genesis of phobias.
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Energy or Alternative Therapies
These types of therapies are very good to couple with more tradition therapies. Yoga, acupuncture, T’ai chi, and even traditional exercise can release endorphins and relax muscles which helps to ease your mind. What do you like to do? If you like walking your dog or biking this could be incorporated into your daily routine quite easily and the benefits will be apparent quickly, both mentally and physically.
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A highly trained hypnotherapist will hypnotize a patient and open up their subconscious mind. From this vulnerable place, a hypnotherapist can ease a fear of germs by implanting positive messages. Also, when the subconscious is directly addressed the root cause of the problem may be found and when awakened the patient can consciously work on their fear.
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A psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist can prescribe OCD medication that should alleviate some symptoms of germ phobia immediately. But his should not be thought of as a miracle cure. Medication should always be coupled with therapy under the eye of a specialized professional.
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Traditional or Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
This is the most common type of treatment. It’s important to find a therapist who deals specifically with OCD-based phobias when you suffer from a fear of germs. They will lead you through exercises that help you to determine the root of your fear and the correct passage to getting over it. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find a therapist for you right away. Remember, you must trust this person and it has to be a good fit.
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"Verminophobia: Do You Have a Fear of Germ?" published by Common Phobia: http://common-phobias.com/Vermino/treatment.htm
"Germ Phobia: Fear From Germs", published by depression-guide.com: http://www.depression-guide.com/phobia/germ-phobia.html
"Germ Phobia", published by phobias-help.com: http://www.phobias-help.com/Germ_Phobia.html