Needle Fear: Implications for Flu Jabs and Vaccinations?

Trypanophobia, or fear of needles, affects an estimated 10% of people. Yet it was only recognized as a specific phobia by the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) in the 1994 4th Edition. The disorder is generally referred to simply as “needle phobia” by the general population, but is specific to medical needles. Trypanophobia is a serious condition that must be treated, as it could eventually lead you to miss out on needed medical care.

Symptoms of Trypanophobia

If you have trypanophobia, you may dread receiving medical care, particularly injections. When you are required to undergo a medical procedure, you are likely to experience high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate in the hours and days leading up to your procedure. However, at the time of the event, your blood pressure may rapidly drop. You may even faint.

Causes of Trypanophobia

Scientists are still unsure precisely what causes needle phobia. It seems to be inherited, as an estimated 80% of those who have the condition have a close relative that suffers from the same phobia. However, it is possible that the fear is learned rather than biologically inherited. Some evolutionary psychologists believe that the fear may be rooted in an ancient survival technique. Puncture wounds could be deadly, particularly in the days before modern antibiotics. It is possible that a fear of puncturing the skin was an evolutionary adaptation.

Treating Trypanophobia

Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been highly effective in treating trypanophobia. Through techniques such as systematic desensitization, the client can gradually learn to tolerate needles. At Anxiety house we have experts in the treatment if needle and blood phobias.

Source: Trypanophobia, Fear of Needles by Lisa Fritscher, May 16, 2014: Original source: Hamilton, James G. “Needle phobia: a neglected diagnosis.” Journal of Family Practice. August, 1995. June 28, 2008.

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