Trypanophobia (Fear of Needles)
Trypanophobia is the irrational fear of needles or injections. Someone suffering from this condition may find it extremely difficult to cope with very strong emotions such as the dread they will inevitably experience as a result of their fear of needles. This inability to cope with their fear will likely reassure them that their fear is justified.
Trypanophobia is a quite common phobia and is likely to be just as frequent as cynophobia (fear of dogs), coulrophobia (fear of clowns), and selachophobia (fear of sharks), among others. People who are irrationally fearful of needles will experience a fight or flight reaction when in the presence of needles. This is especially true when they have to receive a vaccination shot or get blood drawn through a needle. Such an experience can be traumatizing for them and can often leave them fainting.
In fact, someone suffering from trypanophobia who has to get their blood drawn the next day for any given medical reason may experience an immense amount of terror and anxiety at the mere thought of it. Their thoughts may be consumed with what will occur the next day.
Their excessive anticipation and worry thoughts may easily be mistaken as them having obsessive compulsive disorder. Though this may seem like the case, the truth is that the mere thought of getting their blood taken is so frightening to them that nothing else matters to them in that point and time.
Symptoms of Trypanophobia
People with trypanophobia can expect to feel immense anxiety that is so intrusive and overbearing that they may even experience panic attacks, which can lead to them fainting. They may also sweat excessively and begin to feel very ill and weak when around needles or other sharp objects. These fear thoughts that they experience is likely to be a significant cause of their despair. Though they may realize this to be so, their fear is often ingrained in them to the point to where their response to needles is instantaneous and subconscious.
They may also go to painstaking efforts to avoid needles, even if it is extremely important that they use them (e.g. getting blood drawn, getting a vaccination, blood transfusion, etc.). So, in such an instance, their trypanophobia may actually impose their physical well-being by making it much more difficult for them to receive proper diagnoses, as well as vaccinations for various illnesses.
Besides needles, someone suffering from full blown trypanophobia may also become extremely anxious of getting their blood taken or getting a vaccination of some kind. When in the presence of such objects, their anxiety may rise instantly as they will likely believe themselves to be in mortal danger or they may at least sense the presence of potential danger.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of trypanophobia:
Anxiety when thinking of needles or sharp objects
Anxiety when in the presence of needles
Panics when getting blood taken or receiving a vaccination
Avoids getting blood taken or receiving a vaccination
Disposing of any needles or sharp objects in one’s home
Intense anxiety that is irrational and not justified
May experience panic attacks or pass out
Causes of Trypanophobia
There is no known cause of trypanophobia. Nevertheless, there is an overwhelming consensus among most mental health professionals that both genetics and one’s environment play significant roles in the development of any given mental disorder, including trypanophobia. So, this would mean that someone with a family history of mental illness, especially of anxiety disorders, may then have a higher chance of developing trypanophobia. This is likely due to them also having a greater chance of being genetically predisposed to developing mental illness.
If they were to have such a genetic predisposition, then it may only take them experiencing some sort of traumatic event for them to develop a full blown fear of needles and other sharp objects. A traumatic event someone could experience that has the potential to make this so would be if someone was brutally stabbed or accidentally wounded by a needle. Such a traumatic event may cause someone to develop trypanophobia insofar as they have the genetics to do so.
Though we do not definitively know what causes any particular mental disorder, it is agreed upon by a vast majority of psychologists and psychiatrists that both genetics and environmental factors play a role in the development of any given mental illness.
Trypanophobia Treatments (abridged)
There is no known treatment of trypanophobia. However, exposure therapy may be very beneficial for someone suffering from this condition. Just as the name implies, someone suffering from trypanophobia would be slowly exposed to the idea of getting their blood taken or the idea of getting a vaccine by their therapist in a safe, non-threatening environment. Upon doing so, the patient will inevitably experience intense amounts of anxiety as a result of being near the sharp objects.
Regardless of the fact that they will experience a great deal of anxiety when exposed to needles, they will also be desensitizing themselves from their fear of needles as well. Desensitization is a technique commonly used by therapists for individuals suffering from various anxiety disorders. Theoretically, the more the patient gets exposed to their fear, the less it will effect them. They will get conditioned to the point to where needles barely give them any anxiety.
Though exposure therapy can be very effective for those suffering from phobias, it is imperative that the patient is not exposed to too much too soon. Overstimulating them may be extremely counterproductive and may even worsen their condition as opposed to improving it. With this being said, it’s extremely important to find a therapist who is very adept and experienced at treating phobias to ensure that you get best results.
If you think you may have trypanophobia or if you are suffering from some of the symptoms outlined in this article, then you should talk to your doctor as soon as you can so that you can be properly diagnosed and treated. Upon seeing your doctor, he may refer you to see a specialist such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist.
Yoga Poses for Trypanophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from trypanophobia. In part, this is due to the meditative state of mind that yoga tends to emit in those who practice it on a consistent basis. Yoga can be thought of as meditation in motion. It can help to relieve some of the anxiety associated with trypanophobia due to the mere fact that by engaging in yoga, your attention will be redirected to something more productive.
There are many different types of yoga that someone with trypanophobia can benefit from, such as hatha yoga or hot yoga, among many others. Nevertheless, regardless of the many different forms of yoga that exist, virtually all of them can help to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that is associated with trypanophobia.
If you have never practiced yoga before, then it may be in your best interest to take a class or watch some guided videos that can help you through each pose. Just like with meditation, the more you practice yoga, the more adept you will become at it. Besides helping you to reduce your symptoms of trypanophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Trypanophobia
MBSR is an 8-week evidence-based program that offers secular, intensive mindfulness training to help people who are suffering from anxiety, stress, depression, and other sorts of mental anguish. MBSR may be able to significantly help someone who is suffering from trypanophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with trypanophobia can expect to learn a plethora of different skills that can help them to relieve the intense anxiety that’s associated with their specific phobia.
Talk to your doctor or therapist to see if MBSR can help you to reduce the intensity of your symptoms of trypanophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Meditation for Trypanophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from trypanophobia. Specifically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be quite beneficial for helping people to enter into a more equanimeous state. There are many different ways with which you can implement mindfulness meditation and there are also many different meditation apps which are designed to make things as easy as possible for you.
Mindfulness has the potential to significantly help those suffering from trypanophobia due to how it will help one to distract themselves from their fear by refocusing their attention onto something else that does not have any sort of emotional baggage attached to it, such as by focusing on the breath for example. This is one of the most basic ways that one can meditate and be present.
For someone with trypanophobia in the midst of a panic attack, redirecting one’s attention to the various sensations felt when breathing can actually help to reduce the amount of mental anguish experienced during such an influx of anxiety.
To implement mindfulness meditation to help relieve one’s symptoms of trypanophobia, you can do so by paying close attention to the way the muscles in your abdomen and chest contract and relax with every inhale and exhale. You can spend time dwelling on how it feels as your chest expands during each inhale and how it sinks in with every exhale.
Besides focusing on your breathing, you can also focus on the sounds around you, the way your skin feels as you touch certain objects, the way foods taste, as well as the way certain aromas smell. Essentially, honing into your 5 senses can significantly help you to reduce some of the anxiety that is associated with trypanophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Trypanophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as trypanophobia. It can be an efficient way to help desensitize the patient to their specific fears. Be that as it may, it is imperative that the therapist implementing it on their patient is very adept at doing so. For example, if the therapist were to slightly expose someone with trypanophobia to their fear, then it may not be very effective as they may need a higher amount of exposure to truly trigger any sort of worthwhile change in the patient.
The same can be said for the antithesis of this scenario. If the therapist were to excessively expose someone with trypanophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their trypanophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with trypanophobia has a very strong sense of just how severe their symptoms are so that they can know the level of exposure that the patient will likely be able to handle.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Trypanophobia
CBT is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve one’s mental health. It is a modality that is often used to treat people suffering from anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. Someone with trypanophobia may also be able to benefit from CBT as well seeing as how it would allow them to have a much better understanding as to why they think and behave the way they do in relation to their irrational fears.
CBT can be immensely helpful for someone with trypanophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with trypanophobia is exposed to their fear, they will almost always have an instantaneous subconscious reaction to their fear. Such a lack of introspection is likely a large part of why someone with this condition will suffer to the extent that they will. CBT can help you to take a step back and analyze your fears more deeply than you typically would.
Besides learning to be more fastidious with regards to understanding one’s specific fears, someone with trypanophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.
Psychiatric Medications for Trypanophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe trypanophobia due to the fact that people with phobias often experience panic attacks as well. Some common anti-anxiety medications include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, among many others.
These types of drugs are not typically taken on a daily basis, but they may be insofar as their trypanophobia is severe enough. However, this is something that you should first discuss with your doctor before you decide to do so to ensure that it is safe and effective.
These types of medications aren’t only for people who suffer from depression as they can also help people suffering from anxiety disorders as well, such as trypanophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of trypanophobia.
These types of drugs are typically taken on a daily basis. They can indeed help prevent panic attacks from occurring, but they are more so used to help reduce people’s daily anxiety. Talk to your doctor to see if taking antidepressants can help to reduce your symptoms of trypanophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
Exercise for Trypanophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including trypanophobia. Specifically, cardiovascular exercise can significantly help to relieve one’s stress. This is not to say that weight-resistance training would not benefit someone with anxiety, but rather that aerobic exercise is has been shown to be more effective at releasing those feel good chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins.
According to the American Psychology Association, exercise can help to condition the mind to better cope with stressful situations. This makes sense when we take into consideration the high amount of stress that the body is put under during strenuous exercise. So, if you yourself are sedentary, then engaging in some form of aerobic exercise may be able to significantly help reduce your symptoms of trypanophobia by making it much easier for you to cope with the anxiety and stress that’s associated with this condition.
There are many different aerobic modalities that you can partake in to help reduce your symptoms of trypanophobia, such as swimming, biking, skiing, walking, and jogging. You can also acquire the many benefits of exercise by playing sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball, and racquetball, among many other sports. Engaging in some form of exercise consistently may be able to help relieve some of the pain associated with trypanophobia over time.
Limiting Caffeine for Trypanophobia
It is no secret that consuming large amounts of caffeine throughout the day can aid in making you more anxious. This makes sense when we look closely at how caffeine affects our body’s physiology. When we consume a high dose of caffeine, our heart will start to beat faster and we become more tense. Essentially, our body will begin to go into a “fight or flight” state of mind. Such a frame of mind is often a precursor for someone with trypanophobia to experience panic attacks.
So, consuming little to no caffeine throughout the day may be able to significantly help reduce your day to day anxiety. Although doing so will likely not make all of your anxiety go away, it will indeed help you to reduce any unnecessary suffering that you would have otherwise experienced if you were to consume a large amount of caffeine.
Beverages like coffee and tea are often high in caffeine, as well as some energy drinks. In fact, even some foods have caffeine in them as well, such as dark chocolate. Being more conscious of your daily caffeine consumption may help you to reduce some of the symptoms associated with trypanophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Trypanophobia
DBT is a very effective form of treatment for people struggling with emotion regulation. It is often used to treat people suffering from borderline personality disorder. Nevertheless, it can also be very advantageous for someone suffering from anxiety disorders like trypanophobia too. This is due to the numerous amount of coping skills you can expect to learn in a DBT group. These groups typically last about 6 months long and can have anywhere from two people to several people depending on how many join the group.
One very effective DBT skill for helping someone with trypanophobia is half-smiling. This technique works by having you think about that which you fear or upsets you all while slightly raising the corners of your mouth by lightly smiling, thus the term “half-smiling.” Although, it isn’t enough to just think about your fear while half-smiling, you also have to try and refrain from entertaining those painful emotions that your specific fear may evoke.
Mindfulness meditation is also heavily used in DBT and can greatly benefit someone with trypanophobia as it is done in a group setting, which helps to put the patient out of their comfort zone. These group mindfulness practices may include drinking warm tea to hone in on the sense of taste and tactile senses or simply focusing on the breath.
Coping ahead is another very useful DBT skill that can help someone with trypanophobia. With coping ahead, you will want to find a place where you can sit down quietly without distraction. Close your eyes and then think about the many different possible scenarios where you would face your specific fear and overcome it or cope with it. Doing so will help you to be much better adept at coping with your trypanophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.