My kids make fun of me because I am afraid of germs. ... My hands are very chapped from washing them constantly. If I touch a doorknob, I will have to wash my hands. If I read the newspaper, I will have to wash my hands.

Do you think my fear of germs is justified or am I overreacting?


Dr. Phil: Interestingly enough, this probably isn't about germs. It's probably about control, stress and anxiety. You are focusing on something you think you can control, but there's a real paradox here: People with germ phobias live in filth because they are afraid to touch things they need to pick up and clean.

How to kill the bacteria lurking in your bathroom and kitchen

But there are things you can do about this. It's really mostly about anxiety, and you can take medication for that. I don't recommend that, but you can. There are also treatments for this such as cognitive behavior therapy and something called systematic desensitization, where we teach you to control the anxiety. They help the anxiety go away, and you no longer need a target to dump it on.

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