Needle phobia is a serious problem for people affected by it and it is a very real concern that some people have. Needle phobia (or trypanophobia) refers to a serious fear of needles. If you have a needle phobia, you know it causes extreme stress with the idea of having to have a needle.
Your reaction to the needles can range from sweaty palms and an increased heart rate to anxiety attacks and blackouts. The stress that people with needle phobia often experience prevents them from obtaining preventive medical interventions, such as vaccines, and may even cause them to avoid the necessary medical treatments. This prevention of medical intervention can put people with needle phobia at greater risk of illness and death.
Recent studies suggest that approximately 22-23% of people suffer from needle phobia.
People with needle phobia often feel ignored or assaulted by the medical profession. This article can help you take personal control of this issue and make the necessary changes to improve it.
1. Find a doctor who is serious about needle phobia.
It is important that you feel comfortable talking to your doctor about your fear of needles and that he can accommodate you and help you relax. If your doctor is not open to discussing your fear of needles, consider finding a new doctor that you are most comfortable with.
2. Try positive statements on how to deal with it.
Positive statements of coping can help your brain reorient itself from the anxiety it is feeling to positive, rational, and realistic thoughts. Try to tell yourself things like “it will be over soon”, “having a needle is not dangerous, I’ll be fine” or “I’m doing a good thing by protecting myself from a dangerous illness”. Try to write them down on a piece of paper before going to the doctor’s office and then read them while you wait for the injection.
3. Try relaxation techniques to calm yourself down.
There is scientific evidence that brief functional relaxation techniques can help people with needle phobia to control their anxiety. Use techniques like deep, slow breathing and muscle relaxation for self-control to help you with your consultation.
4. Try to distract yourself from the needle.
Distraction can help you distract from things. Take your favorite music to your appointment or play your favorite game. Try to bring things into your commitment that you can focus on and that generally make you happy.
5. Look away from the needle.
This may seem like a simple suggestion, but it can actually be a big help to you when getting a needle. A lot of unease caused by needles occurs through visual evidence of the needle entering your arm (nobody’s favorite feeling!) This works well with the suggestion of distraction. Look away and focus on something completely different to keep your mind off the task at hand.
6. Ask your doctor to freeze the needle site.
Numb spots and numbing creams can be used to freeze the needle site before the doctor delivers it. This means that you will not really feel the small amount of pain resulting from the injection. Knowing that you will not experience any pain can help you control your anxiety.
7. Seek help from a professional psychotherapist.
A psychologist or psychiatrist can help you develop strategies to control your fear of needles through professional therapy sessions. They can use cognitive-behavioral therapy or exposure therapy to help you manage your anxiety.
8. Find out if the intervention is available as a non-needle.
Ask your doctor if the necessary intervention is available without a needle. For example, the influenza vaccine is available as FluMist, a nasal spray that does not involve an injection. That way, you can protect yourself from the flu while you’re still working on some of the other anxiety control techniques that will help you meet your next needle challenge.
9. Try acupuncture as an additional solution.
This may seem like a curious suggestion, but one of the best ways to desensitize to fear is to gradually increase what is causing the phobia in the first place. Acupuncture rarely hurts (in the sense of a traditional needle); instead, it provides more pain around the insertion point (depending on where you are). A slight tingling sensation may also occur. Studies suggest that there are many benefits to acupuncture, so you can kill two birds with one stone here!
You are not alone. Needle phobia affects many people and can be a significant problem. The above techniques can help you to control your fear, take you on the road to recovery, and obtain the necessary medical interventions. Everyone is different, so try different techniques in different combinations until you find what works best for you.