How to Overcome Your Fear of Needles and Sharp Objects
Being afraid of needles (belonephobia) can be a massive problem for many reasons. If you need an injection or blood drawn for medical testing, it can be an incredibly stressful experience for the individual. Consequently, many people avoid contact with the medical profession altogether.
Phobias are often related to the following issues:
- Pain from the needle
- Pointed objects, including pins and needles
- Doctors or the medical industry in general
- Discomfort, fainting or nausea during the drawing of blood
- The physical sight of blood
Trypanophobia is a form of belonephobia, but the fear only relates to having blood taken or receiving an injection. There are many underlying reasons for the problem, but it often stems from a negative experience (pain or fainting) during childhood. The mind refuses to forget or recover from what’s happened.
Just the thought of holding out your arm for a needle to be inserted is enough to induce panic. The pain seems disproportionate because you’re expecting the experience to be worse.
Table of Contents:
- 1 What Are the Symptoms of Needle Phobia?
- 2 What is a Fear of Sharp Objects?
What Are the Symptoms of Needle Phobia?
Phobias affect us all differently. You may have an extreme phobia and find that you experience a multitude of symptoms at the same time. Others experience far fewer symptoms.
Here are some common signs of a needle phobia:
- Heart palpitations
- Feeling sick
- Chest pains
- Difficulty breathing
- Jelly legs
- Feeling ‘unreal’ (surreal)
- Intense sweating
- Feeling faint
- Dry throat.
The most common issue is vasovagal syncope. According to the Mayo Clinic, this is where the person faints due to a sudden drop in blood pressure caused by the situation that’s being faced. In short, it’s the body reacting adversely to a specific trigger.
Here are some of the things that you can do to feel more relaxed:
- Have faith in the phlebotomist, medical or cosmetic professional
- Stay hydrated by drinking sufficient water
- Focus on maintaining a relaxed posture
- Eat to raise your blood sugar (unless you’re fasting!)
- Communicate clearly about your concerns to the doctor/nurse
Have Faith in the Person Performing the Injection
Professionals undergo extensive training so that they are highly skilled at their job.
Bear in mind is that they are always on hand to put you at ease. For them to know that you have a fear, let them know straight away that you are nervous about needles. You’re not alone.
They will strive to take your sample as comfortably as possible. They may use a tiny needle, known as a butterfly needle. You can ask them if that’s an option if it’s not already been suggested. This is helpful if you have a ‘classic phobia.’
Stay Hydrated with Water
Ensuring that you’re hydrated before blood is taken is important. Drinking a large glass of water can help to maintain the volume of your blood.
It can help the phlebotomist to find a visible and cooperative vein, even if you’re carrying a few extra pounds. It will prevent your veins from collapsing which can be uncomfortable.
Of course, there are other liquids that you can drink, but water is the best way to hydrate your body. If you’re getting a one-off injection, the requirement to drink water isn’t as urgent.
Try and Stay Relaxed
Avoid stiffening up and sitting upright like a tightly-coiled spring. This can make the process more uncomfortable for you.
Meditation can be beneficial. Practicing relaxation techniques before you go to your appointment can go a long way toward helping you to de-stress.
Slow and regular deep breathing will aid the release of muscle tension. Additionally, keeping a positive internal dialogue with the doctor/nurse can help to reinforce the feeling of relaxation. Less body tension means less discomfort, allowing the professional to do his job more effectively.
Raise Your Blood Sugar Level
As long as you’re not getting a blood test that requires fasting, you should consider eating some food to raise your blood sugars. This will help, even if you feel sick with worry.
Something healthy and rich in calories, like a banana, can be beneficial. Not only will carb-rich food help to keep your brain alert, but it would mean that you’re less likely to faint due to a sudden fall in blood pressure (vasovagal reflex reaction).
If you do tend to faint, you should inform your phlebotomist before any blood is drawn. They can arrange for you to lie down to have the blood taken. This could prevent unnecessary injury.
Let the medical professional know about your fear of needles immediately.
Discuss your options and what you can both do to remove the anxiety. The chances are that they will have come across people with needle phobias in the past and WILL be able to assist you!
10 Simple Ways to Overcome Your Needle Fear
While the above points can be helpful in overcoming a needle fear, they won’t work for everyone.
We’ve put together some further ways to overcome your fear:
- Repeat to yourself that the pain (if any) will be over in an instant.
- Ask for any blood to be taken in one shot.
- Be firm and say no when asked if a student can practice their skills on you.
- Avoid worrying by doing something that will distract you.
- Numb the area before your shot with a topical anesthetic cream (EMLA). Alternatively, a Synera patch can be administered if you’re hyper-sensitive to needles. This is a rare condition that is believed to affect approximately 1 percent of the world’ population.
- Choose a different body part for blood to be taken, such as the back of your hand.
- Find out if there’s an alternative option such, such as taking a tablet.
- Consider behavioral therapy to recondition the way you think about needles.
- Desensitize yourself by researching your phobia and understanding how needles work.
- Reward yourself on completion.
If you’ve tried the above points more than once and are still struggling, you may need to take further action. When a phobia has been left unresolved for too long, it can be challenging to get your mind to accept the new and more positive behavior.
You can also try a hypnotherapy session:
What is a Fear of Sharp Objects?
You may be worried about the following items:
- Pens and pencils
- Pins and needles
- Knives (or cutlery)
- The sharp end of an umbrella
- Sharp edges of furniture
- Building constructions or materials.
Sharp items lead to fears that are specific to the individual. Some people are afraid of cutting themselves or injuring someone else. Others are terrified of coming into contact with something sharp or pointy.
The fear of needles (belonephobia) is classified as a form of aichmophobia. However, other phobias fall under this broad umbrella. We are all concerned about different items and objects.
What Are the Triggers?
Much like all phobias, there are different triggers concerning the fear of sharp objects. Some people are afraid of sharp knives, such as chef knives or hunting knives, for example. Others are afraid of items that are as seemingly harmless, like butter knives.
Fears of items, such as sewing pins and knitting needles, can be due to a more profound psychological fear. For example, visualizing needles piercing the skin while sewing or stitching.
Some people fear all objects that they perceive as being sharp. This can include umbrella tips, paper clips, and clothes hangers.
Usually, the more severe the phobia is, the more items will act as triggers. However, there are ways to live a healthy stress-free life.
Ways to Overcome Your Fear
Because aichmophobia is the fear of virtually all sharp objects, it can be a more difficult issue to overcome than belonephobia.
Always remember the following:
- Face your fear head on
- Don’t let panic or setbacks paralyze you
- There’s no need for embarrassment
It can take time to recondition your mind, but it’s entirely possible.
Attempting to look at items that scare you from a different perspective is the best place to start. A positive attitude and renewed outlook can help you to move forward.
Face Your Aichmophobia Head On
While you may feel alone, thousands of other people deal with the same problem every day. Own your fear and know that YOU can change it.
Facing your fears head-on can be highly effective. However, it’s always best to gradually build up your exposure to your fear of needles or sharp items.
Build yourself up to spending some time with the source of your fear – even if it’s for a short amount of time. Start slowly and gradually build upon that achievement.
Don’t Be Put Off By Setbacks
Teach yourself not to allow your fears to debilitate you. This can be hard, but it’s entirely doable. Just keep pushing forward with gradual steps.
At times, every day may seem like a hurdle and some days may feel like you’re not making any progress at all. In times like these, step back and revisit why you’re on this journey. You’ll be surprised at just how far you’ve come.
Setbacks happen. However, by learning to overcome these setbacks, you’re growing and moving forward as a person. Changing your thought process is the start of your journey. So, more positive thoughts and a can-do attitude will enable you to succeed.
Nothing to Be Embarrassed About
Depending on the severity of your phobia, you may have found yourself in situations where you’ve missed out on experiences. Sometimes, the fear that you experience can be paralyzing.
You’ve more than likely had setbacks, but there is nothing to be embarrassed about. Everyone has fears, and they’re all different. You are taking steps to overcome your phobia.
Medical Help Is Available
A doctor can advise on the best steps to take. If you don’t think that your doctor is taking your phobia seriously, you should seek advice from an alternative medical professional.
Alternative sources of medical assistance can be beneficial in some instances. These include hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and counseling.
Much depends on your belief in alternative medicine.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Phobias
Regardless of whether you have a fear of needles or sharp objects, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be beneficial.
You may be able to benefit from CBT in the following situations:
- Do you have a marked, persistent, and excessive fear of needles?
- Does exposure to needles provoke an immediate anxious response?
- Do you recognize this fear as excessive?
- Does the avoidance of needles or sharp objects cause anxiety or significant distress that interferes with your regular routine, occupational or academic functioning, social activities or relationships?
According to the NHS, Injection and needle phobia affects 3.5 % to 10% of the population.
Using CBT to Overcome Your Fear of Sharp Objects
If you decide to get CBT, they will help you through the different aspects of your phobia.
Some of the techniques include:
- Looking at a picture of a cartoon needle
- Touching a picture of a needle
- Holding a real needle
- Injecting an orange with an actual needle
- Driving past your surgery
- Going to your surgery to talk about having an injection
- Going to have an injection using a topical anesthetic to numb the injection site
- Finally, going to get an injection.
Rather than dealing directly with needles, you’ll simulate the activity. This can assist with the transition, meaning that you can face your fear head-on at a later date when you’re more ready.
A fear of needles and sharp objects is a complex condition with many causes. The same treatments will not work for everyone, so a certain amount of trial and error is required to overcome the issue.