Typhomania: A Rarely Discussed Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder characterized by intrusive, persistent, and unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors (compulsions) that a person feels driven to perform (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Although commonly discussed in clinical settings, one form of OCD that has received relatively little attention is typhomania—an intense preoccupation with contracting typhoid fever. This article provides an overview of typhomania, including its etiology, symptoms, prevalence, and treatment.


The exact etiology of typhomania is unknown, but it is likely due to a combination of biological and environmental factors. On the biological side, research suggests that the disorder could be caused by an imbalance of serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters associated with OCD (Akhondzadeh et al., 2019). Additionally, the risk of developing typhomania is known to be higher among individuals with a family history of OCD (Oliveira et al., 2020).

Environmental factors may also play a role in the development of typhomania. These can include traumatic events, such as being exposed to a typhoid outbreak or hearing of a loved one contracting the disease. Additionally, the media can play a role in reinforcing the fear of contracting typhoid fever, as stories of outbreaks have been featured in newspapers and television programs (Sachdeva & Bhatia, 2019).


Individuals with typhomania typically experience a wide range of symptoms, including intrusive thoughts about contracting the disease, excessive washing of hands, checking for signs of fever, and avoiding contact with people who are potentially infected. Additionally, they may experience feelings of anxiety, guilt, and depression, as well as physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and nausea (Sachdeva & Bhatia, 2019).


The prevalence of typhomania is difficult to estimate, as it is often underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed as other forms of OCD. However, it is estimated that the disorder affects up to 2% of the population (Oliveira et al., 2020).


The primary treatment for typhomania is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of therapy focuses on identifying and modifying maladaptive thought patterns and behaviors associated with the disorder. Additionally, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be prescribed to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression (Akhondzadeh et al., 2019).


Typhomania is a rare but debilitating form of OCD characterized by an intense preoccupation with contracting typhoid fever. The etiology of the disorder is likely a combination of biological and environmental factors, and it is estimated to affect up to 2% of the population. The primary treatment for typhomania is CBT, in combination with medication.


Akhondzadeh, S., Pouretemad, H., & Ghoreyshi, A. (2019). The efficacy of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in obsessive-compulsive disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 88, 131-143.

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Oliveira, M., Costa, S., Lopes, A. C., & do Rosário, M. C. (2020). Obsessive-compulsive disorder: A systematic and narrative review of family studies. Psychopathology Review, 7(1), 35-45.

Sachdeva, A., & Bhatia, T. (2019). Typhomania: A rare form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 61(3), 259-260.

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