Trypanophobia is best described as the extreme fear of procedures that involve needles or injections. Children, in particular, are afraid of needles due to the fact that they are unfamiliar with the sensation caused when pricked by needles, and often once they reach adulthood, they tend to outgrow their fear of needles.
Having a needle phobia is quite common, especially in children. However, if you are suffering and would like to know more about needle phobia therapy, this article will look at treatment options that will help you overcome your fear of needles effectively.
Do You Have Trypanophobia?
Fear vs. phobia
Before determining whether you have trypanophobia, it is essential that you can differentiate between fear and phobia. Fear is considered to be a normal reaction when faced with a threat; phobia, on the other hand, produces a fear response, even when there is no threat in sight. Notably, phobias can also be associated with a variety of objects or situations, such as a fear of dogs, flying, needles, heights, and the likes.
Doctors often find difficulty pinpointing why some people develop needle phobias while others don't. However, there are some suggested causes:
- Past trauma and negative experiences
- Family history, relatives who have/had needle phobias
- Childhood phobias that appeared by the age of 10
- Changes in brain chemistry
- Negative information and experiences
Like all phobias, trypanophobia negatively impacts the day-to-day lives of the people affected by it. The symptoms experienced by sufferers can be dreadful and become present when one encounters needles or is advised to undergo a procedure involving needles. Some of the symptoms associated with trypanophobia:
- Medical care avoidance
- Rapid heartbeat
- Panic attacks
- High blood pressure
- Emotional or physical violence
Should You Start Treatment?
Often we seek advice from the ones we trust the most, be it friends or family. Alternatively, we may conduct our own research in an attempt to make sense of what we are experiencing. However, when it comes to medical and mental health-related issues, it is essential to get advice from a professional, especially regarding a needle phobia diagnosis.
Firstly, in an attempt to diagnose your condition, your doctor is likely to conduct a physical examination to rule out any physical conditions that may be contributing to your symptoms. The doctor will then proceed to ask you questions related to your needle phobia symptoms, their severity, nature, and duration.
In addition to the above, in order to be accurately diagnosed with trypanophobia, your symptoms have to:
- Cause great distress and lead to avoidance
- Have an immediate occurrence in response to needles
- Affect your life negatively and your ability to function normally
- Be excessive and unreasonable
Furthermore, your needle phobia symptoms have to be present for six months or more and should not be linked to other disorders and illnesses.
Did you know that in addition to the symptoms one experiences with trypanophobia, the phobia also has the added danger of altering one's behavior? Due to their current and constant fear of needles, they also tend to avoid seeking medical help.
Therefore, although these people have a fear of needles, they are also at risk of getting a fear of medical and dental healthcare providers. These people with a needle phobia are likely to refuse treatment and routine checkups on the whole.
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Treatment for Needle Phobia
Needle phobia can be treated with both therapy and medication. Here are some of the options you can consider.
Exposure therapy is one of the most common and highly recommended forms of needle phobia therapy. Different techniques are used, such as systematic desensitization, where you learn to tolerate needles gradually within a safe and controlled environment. Initially, you will be exposed to a syringe without a needle, and eventually, you are exposed to the needle as well.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
CBT has proven to be a highly effective needle phobia treatment. If you are unfamiliar with CBT, it is a form of psychotherapy that challenges how people see the world and the things in it, including needles. It also helps alleviate some of the symptoms associated with needle phobia, such as anxiety.
Online counseling is a form of professional needle phobia therapy that is conducted virtually as opposed to conventional face-to-face interactions. This form of therapy further serves as a great alternative to face-to-face therapy sessions, especially with the current Covid-19 pandemic. Notably, unlike the above-mentioned forms of therapy, this form of therapy is without exposure; however, it might have some benefits that will encourage you to start treatment.
Benefits of online therapy:
- Great option for those living in remote areas
- Accessible for those with physical limitations
- Convenience and affordability
- Treatment is more approachable
- Easy access
As previously mentioned, anxiety is one of the main symptoms associated with needle phobia; therefore, medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and other closely related medications are given to patients to aid in decreasing their anxiety levels, these medications tend to offer temporary relief to acute anxiety symptoms.
The Bottom Line
Evidently, needle phobia is a serious condition that should not be left untreated if that alters your behavior and creates an additional fear of health care professionals. This can lead to an avoidance of health care on the whole.
Notably, there are various forms of needle phobia therapy that exist, such as in-person, online CBT, and exposure therapy. Therapy will help you figure out ways how to overcome your fear of needles and injections and also aid in assisting with your accompanying symptoms.
Exposure therapy is the main method that should be used in treating a needle phobia; however, if you are still weighing your options and are considering online therapy, you can check more info here.