The highly anticipated Covid 19 vaccine to help with our fight against coronavirus is now here and the NHS has this week started a mass vaccination programme. This is great news for the majority of people but for those who have an extreme fear of needles, which is also known as Trypanophobia, it presents yet another challenge.
Many people fear injections to some extent, but once that fear becomes persistent, excessive and unreasonable, it becomes a phobia. Although injection phobia isn’t well recognised, it is in fact extremely common and it is estimated that it affects approximately 10% of the UK population.
What causes needle/injection phobia?
Needle phobias can often be traced back to childhood, stemming from memories of painful injections, which are often inaccurate. I can remember standing in line in alphabetical order for injections at school, always last because my surname began with W, listening to the tales of those who had already had their injection before me. Witnessing the distress and nervousness of others around me certainly did nothing to allay my own fears.
Childhood fears can also be exacerbated by close relatives or friends who have phobias of their own. These can then be transferred onto a vulnerable young person and remain with them for years to come, creating a continuous cycle of fear.
A fear of needles could also be attributed to evolution. Dating back thousands of years our ancestors were highly susceptible to infection or even death, as a result of being pricked by a sharp object. Medical advances, including the development of antibiotics mean that infections can be easily treated and full recovery made.
What are the signs and symptoms of needle phobia?
For many people the fear of needles is linked to feeling faint or actually fainting. This is because a fear trigger such as the sight of blood or thoughts about the injection itself, can cause the heart rate and blood pressure to increase before suddenly dropping again. It is this sudden drop in blood pressure which causes fainting in some people.
Many people don’t actually faint but they do experience feelings of panic and anxiety or a desire to flee, and may physically tremble, shake and sweat when their fear response is activated.
In some cases, a fear of needles can have serious health consequences if an individual is unwilling to undergo medical procedures for fear of having injections or blood tests.
How can hypnotherapy help with needle/injection phobia?
Clinical hypnotherapy can be very effective in the treatment of phobias, and in a reasonably short space of time too. A hypnotherapist can induce a deep state of relaxation and use visualisation techniques once this is achieved, to help their client to find the cause of their fear. It is then possible to desensitise the negative emotions attached to this fear.
Self-help for needle phobia:
Try to relax because tension in the muscles can make an injection more painful.
Practice deep breathing techniques to control your breathing and instil calm
Sit comfortably and place your hands on your stomach.
Allow your stomach to move out and fill with air as you breathe in deeply through your nose.
Hold that breath for the count of three seconds.
Breathe out through your mouth to the count of five seconds, letting your stomach move back in. Breathing in this way will also give you something to focus on.
Don’t look at the needle if it frightens you. Use distraction techniques instead
Focussing on something in the room. Find an object or maybe something on the wall that you can really study, size shape, colour noticing as much detail as possible etc.
Think of a place where you have previously felt comfortable and really imagine that you are in that place noticing what you can smell, hear or feel.
Try counting backwards from 100 in 7s or think of different car makes in order of the alphabet.
Talk to yourself positively using statement. Such as:
“This will be over before I know it”.
“I can cope with this”.
“It won’t be as bad as I think, things I’ve worried about in the past have rarely been as bad as I think they’ll be”.
Charities have suffered badly as a result of the pandemic, having been unable to raise the funds which they desperately need to keep going.
I want to help out and so for the next 4 months, I will be donating 20% of fees taken for the treatment of needle/injection phobia to a local charity. Please do get in contact for a FREE, no obligation, initial consultation. Online sessions available.