Washing hands over and over… Increasing the time and frequency of taking showers… Using cleaning products and antibacterial products more than usual… Fleeing from places of common use such as workplaces and hospitals… The Covid-19 pandemic, which shook the whole world, triggers and increases many anxieties.
One of them is misophobia, which is defined as taking precautions that will negatively affect the person's life with the concern of contamination! This condition, which is more common in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, can seriously decrease the quality of life due to the inability of the person to control their fear and anxiety. Acıbadem University Atakent Hospital Psychologist Cansu İvecen said, “The uncertainty of the risk of transmission of Covid-19 caused an increase in the cases of misophobia. If misophobia is left untreated, it can cause a person to feel unhappy, to continue to increase his anxiety, to suffer from various diseases such as depression and obsessive-compulsive due to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness about the future. warns.
"What if I get a germ or virus?"
Misophobia; It is defined as taking extra precautions due to thoughts such as catching germs or contamination that causes fear and anxiety that will negatively affect the daily life of the person. Although the fear of catching a germ or virus comes to mind when it comes to misophobia, people with this problem also intensely feel the concern of contamination from body fluids. For the first time in 1879, Dr. Explaining that this fear, defined by William Alexander Hammond, is seen more with Covid-19, Psychologist Cansu İvecen states, “Misophobia can be triggered by negative thoughts such as catching germs from places touched by those who have difficulty in coping with the feeling of anxiety that arises with uncertainty”.
Hands are washed many times, cleaning is exaggerated
So how does misophobia manifest? Psychologist Cansu İvecen answers this question as follows: “Genetic and environmental factors can cause the development of misophobia. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder are particularly at risk. Misophobia; Together with the excessive fear of contamination and catching microbes, it emerges with symptoms such as washing hands many times, increasing the number of taking showers and prolonging their duration, cleaning and using antibacterial products much above normal, avoiding places that are thought to be dirty or infected. These people are not only afraid of microbes, but also of pollution and epidemics, and this fear can seriously reduce the quality of life of the person.
Extreme measures taken aggravate anxiety
Taking precautions in the face of a real danger ensures survival. However, even if those who suffer from misophobia do not face a real danger; They may experience increased fear and anxiety because they think that the danger posed by them is high against certain situations they perceive, realize and make sense of. Psychologist Cansu İvecen, who mentioned that such feelings lead people to take extreme measures, continues as follows:
“Some measures they take in order to end the mental danger can trigger the feeling of anxiety and cause it to continue increasingly. The person avoids places that they consider dangerous. If he needs to be in that environment, he takes mental and behavioral measures to reduce his anxiety. A threatening place for him; There may be crowded environments such as workplaces, hospitals, home visits or places where there is common toilet use. Although some measures such as excessive use of antibacterial products with the fear of catching germs, avoiding environments where there is a possibility of getting germs instantly reduce the anxiety of the person, in the long term this feeling increases and the measures taken increase. This prevents him from performing some activities that he can do and need in his daily life. "
Solution can be provided with treatment
If misophobia is not treated, it can turn into a state that severely restricts the person's life. Psychologist Cansu İvecen, who noted that the continued feeling of anxiety can trigger the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness about the future, said, “In addition, the continuation of the feeling of anxiety can cause the deterioration of family and social relations as it will negatively affect the people with whom the person lives with his / her own life. he speaks.
Drawing attention to the fact that people with misophobia symptoms should definitely consult a specialist, Psychologist Cansu İvecen says about the treatment process: “The type of treatment is determined according to the anxiety level of the person. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most widely used evidence-based treatment method in anxiety disorders. In this treatment method, the person is faced with the situations he / she avoids gradually by planning with the therapist. With its erroneous evaluations, the function of the behavior is questioned and the reconstruction of the cognitive structuring is beneficial. Thus, the person can evaluate the environment and behaviors and the measures taken in a more realistic way. Regulation of medical treatment together with psychotherapy can increase the effectiveness of the therapy process. With the treatment, the patient's perception of danger changes and the problem of misophobia can be eliminated with the increase in coping skills. " says.