If you’ve experienced anxiety or dizziness at the sight of a needle, you may have Trypanophobia, the fear of procedures involving hypodermic needles or syringes.
A trip to the doctor can be a frightening experience for people with this phobia. This fear can affect a person’s quality of life and even hinder them from getting the right medical treatment.
Vaccines, for example, help fight against diseases harmful to the human body. They are stored in laboratory refrigerators and are handled with caution. Despite their importance, people with trypanophobia would rather not have them.
At 10 years old, Annaleise discovered her fear of needles after fainting from her routine vaccination. The sensation returned again upon visiting her dentist when she was required to have a filling. Since these incidents, Annaleise avoided the doctors and the dentists as much as possible, putting her health at risk.
The case of Annaleise is not uncommon and many people suffer from the fear of needles. It is estimated that this affects 5 percent of the population.
For the average person, a needle can be slightly uncomfortable. Children tend to be more afraid of needles because of the prickly sensation on their skin; this fear can stay into adulthood. Doctors cannot determine what causes the fear of needles, but these are its known contributory factors:
- Childhood trauma and phobia
- Negative experiences of past trauma brought back by a situation
- Negative information and experiences
To be more specific, aspects of needles can cause the phobia because of:
- Restraint. When having an injection, people can be restrained
- Reliving memories of pain upon the sight of a needle
- Dizziness or fainting when pricked by a needle.
Diagnosis of the Treatment
A phobia of needles can affect a person’s quality of life and health, especially when it prevents them from receiving medical treatment. A doctor may recommend seeing a mental health specialist, who will ask questions about your symptoms and medical histories.
Common treatments for phobias such as the fear of needles include Cognitive Behavioural and Exposure therapy. A therapist can help you see your fears differently and to cope with them. Cognitive behavioural therapy should see you walking away with confidence and being able to control your feelings.
Exposure therapy deals with gradually exposing you to needles and eventually, you being able to hold them and tolerate injections. Medications for stress can also help reduce symptoms of fear through sedatives and other calming agents.
When undergoing treatment, it is important to understand your underlying causes for your fear of needles. You may never completely get over your fear, but can manage it better.
Facing Your Fears
Going back to Annaleise, she realised her phobia of needles could hamper her health and future. Aspiring to work with animals, she realised she would be dealing with vaccines; her wisdom teeth were also causing her pain.
With the help of exposure treatment, Annaleise started viewing images of needles on a screen. Later, she graduated by handling real needles and seeing other people injected. Eventually, she was able to manage her fears and got injected herself.
Annaleise credits her therapy for overcoming her fears and being in a better place. At the time of writing, she works as a dental nurse handling equipment, including needles. She may not have completely gotten over her fears despite seeing patients injected every day, but the fear had become manageable.
Like Annaleise’s story, many people fear needles and getting injected. It’s something people don’t need to be ashamed of and can be treated in order to attain a better quality of life.