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VR/AR for Stress Management - Meditation and Relaxation

We update techinques every month
Blog - Phobias

forget about phobia of bacteria and germs with VR

By Inna Maltzeva, Chief Scientific Officer at PsyTech VR
October 05, 2022

What is germophobia?

What is germophobia?

Germophobia is the fear of bacteria. However, "germs" broadly refer to any microorganism that causes disease, such as viruses, or parasites. In germaphobia, the fear of germs is persistent enough to affect your daily life. People with this fear may avoid activities that can lead to infection, such as eating in public places, such as food courts, or having sexual contact, etc.
They may also avoid places where germs are high, such as public restrooms, subway tunnels, or buses. Some areas are harder to avoid, such as school or work; in these places, activities such as touching a pen or handling someone can lead to significant anxiety.

Sometimes this anxiety leads to compulsive behavior. People with germaphobia may frequently wash their hands, use a shower, or wipe down surfaces. While these repetitive activities can reduce your risk of infection, they can be lengthy and make it difficult to focus on anything else.


Causes and triggers of fear of germs

Causes and triggers of fear of germs

Like other phobias, germophobia often begins between childhood and adolescence. People believe that Several factors contribute to the development of phobias:
  • Negative childhood experience. Many people with germaphobia can recall a specific event or traumatic experience that led to germ-related fears
  • Family history. Phobias may have a genetic link. Having a close family member with a phobia or other anxiety disorder may increase your risk. However, they may not have the same phobia as you
  • Environmental factors. Beliefs and customs about cleanliness or hygiene that you encounter when you are young can influence the development of germaphobia
  • Mental factors. Specific changes in brain chemistry and function are believed to play a role in the development of phobias.
Triggers are objects, places, or situations that exacerbate phobia symptoms. Germophobia triggers that cause symptoms may include:
  • body fluids such as mucus, saliva
  • dirty things and surfaces, such as doorknobs, computer keyboards, or dirty clothes
  • places where germs collect, such as airplanes or hospitals
  • unhygienic methods or people

The reasons

The reasons

We all have fears, but phobias are usually viewed as unfounded or exaggerated compared to common fears. The problems and anxiety caused by germophobia are out of proportion to the damage that germs can cause. Someone who has germophobia can take care to avoid infection.
Sometimes the fear of germs can lead to obsessive-compulsive disorder
The symptoms of germaphobia are the same as those of other specific phobias. In this case, they refer to thoughts and situations involving microbes.
Germophobia's emotional and psychological symptoms include intense dread, anxiety, restlessness, nervousness, persistent obsessive thoughts about exposure to germs and possible illness and other negative consequences, and feelings of powerlessness over the fear of germs.
The physical symptoms of germaphobia are similar to those of other anxiety disorders. They can occur while thinking about germs or in situations where there is a direct encounter with germs. Symptoms include rapid heartbeat, sweating or chills, shortness of breath, chest tightness or pain, dizziness, tingling, shaking or shaking, muscle tension, restlessness, nausea or vomiting, headache, and difficulty relaxing.
Children who are afraid of germs may also experience the above symptoms. Depending on their age, they may have additional symptoms such as twitching, crying or screaming, difficulty sleeping, increased nervousness, or self-esteem issues.
Sometimes the fear of germs can lead to obsessive-compulsive disorder, but problems with germs or disease are not necessarily a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The critical difference is that people with germophobia often use personal care products to reduce germs, while people with OCD also repeatedly resort to using unique care products as a ritual to reduce anxiety.

Overcome germophobia with VR

Overcome germophobia with VR

  1. If your concerns about germs significantly limit what you do, where you go, and who you see
  2. If you realize that your fear of germs is irrational but feel powerless to overcome it
  3. If the routine and rituals you are forced to perform to avoid infection make you feel ashamed or mentally unwell, your fears may have crossed the line and developed into a more severe phobia

It's time to start living a new life! Try the PsyTech VR therapy system, and you will realize how virtual reality can help overcome your fear and phobia of bacteria!

Don't be ashamed of germophobia, start your VR phobia therapy in the comfort of your home! Do you want mental health specialist to be with you during the therapy session? No problem, our system is also available for consultations with doctors using the VR telemedicine system through the provider's platform.
Using our content and scenarios you will be immersed in various types of real-life situations but in VR, with the best 3D graphics that erase borders between reality and the virtual world. These are the screenshots from the actual version of PsyTech VR, have a look at the realism of 3D design in exposure training:
Our concept is helping to bring exposure therapy to the home training format and give specialists powerful digital tools with proven effects since the 20th century. Mainly, PsyTech VR solves these three problems which mental health specialists and patients face during the Mental Imagery sessions:

1) It is hard to imagine various types of real-life scenarios of fears and phobias with the brain.
Solution №1: We create super-realistic scenarios and immersive 3D graphics in VR

2) People are afraid to speak about their anxieties.
Solution №2: With the help of mental health specialists and developers, we offer an effective home therapy system based on Learning Management System, VR experience, and Dashboard with your progress. Everything is supported with personal recommendations for training, as well as statistics to track your results.

3) During exposure therapy with mental health specialists, it is impossible to see what is happening in the patient's imagination.
Solution №3: VR telemedicine of PsyTech VR opens a new way to provide patients with mental imagery, which allows watching the stream of clients' "VR gameplay" on the laptop. The specialist uses a PC, and the patient train in a VR headset; this is simple and innovative! Also, there is an ability for audio- and video-stream so psychologists can teach coping strategies like in an ordinary session but with virtual reality.

Creative and production teams bring to VR natural scenes and situations where you can face germophobia like in real life. The user will be given complete control over VR scenarios with controllers.

Practicing with a virtual reality headset creates a safe environment for learning, helps users get used to uncleanliness and unsanitary conditions, get comfortable with bacteria and become more confident and stress-resistant to facing germs in real-life situations.

Our team has developed unique spaces and levels in virtual reality, which users can access in a VR headset (with Meta Quest) and train germophobia in the following scenarios:
  • in the human body, facing viruses like COVID-19, Human Papilloma, Spike, Zika, etc.
  • in the space where the person died from unknown bacteria
  • in a morgue of infectious diseases hospital
  • etc.

As we've mentioned in previous articles, phobias are built with the "leader of the fear" technic when the difficulty arises from the first to the last level in VR. This method helps to adapt fluidly and avoid immediate problems with mental health when facing the most challenging scenarios.
You can train in VR using self-guiding courses from the comfort of your home

OR

with a specialist - the doctor will have access to your training in real-time and guide you through all the training!
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Inna Maltzeva
CSO at PsyTech VR

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