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Counselling 4 Anxiety

Online and in-person Counsellor in Knightsbridge, Marylebone, Marble Arch & Central London

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Fear of Needles and Injections or ‘Trypanophobia’

(A Phobia That Affects Many & Which Is Rarely Discussed)

A Combination of Fear, Avoidance, the Perception of Threat and not Being Able to Cope

At the Core of Trypanophobia or ‘Needle Phobia’ are a Number of Interacting Fears

Hypnotherapy has assisted many people who have had a fear of needles and injections and I include hypnotherapy, ‘Exposure and Response Prevention’, counselling, bodywork, breathing, ‘decatastrophising’ and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques to assist in the healing process.

So, there is a way ahead for you to move through ‘needle phobia’ so that you can take charge of your health and well-being.

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It is clear that fear of needles and injections affects the lives of some people, makes them feel that they are ‘not in control’, and that their reactions are to get anxious and hyper-alert to the point of focussing on the moment of the injection. Some people start to visualise the injection and the needle, all things that heighten the sense of risk and fear within them. Instead of accepting the process, the virtual painlessness of it, (apart from what can be described as a scratch), individuals with this phobia tense their muscles which heightens the moment and triggers their ‘fight or flight’ response from the sympathetic nervous system.

I know from work with people who have a fear of injections and needles that their fears are based on a number of things which include:

  • A sense of feeling overwhelmed at the point of an injection: This is very similar if not identical to other fears and phobias with the underlying feeling that the individual will be overwhelmed and be unable to cope. We are back to the core principle underneath phobias of the over-estimation of the problem and the under-estimation of the ability to cope by the individual.

  • The Apprehension or ‘Worry’ Build Up Phase to Having an Injection: Just like other phobias, having a ‘needle phobia’ means that individuals start to worry and have a rising level of anxiety as they ruminate and think about the date of their injection. This also includes if they are having a blood test and as the worry and anxiety builds, they may consider avoidance type behaviours.

  • Avoidance Type Behaviours Start to Become More Marked & A Way of Coping: The reality is that avoidance type behaviours simply re-enforce phobias. The more someone avoids, the greater credence and strength they are giving to the fear. This means that avoidance strengthens the very fear that they are trying to get relief from. It also means that individuals put off key events like getting blood tests, checking cholesterol and glucose levels and ensuring that their health is in order.

  • Feelings of panic and catastrophising: Individuals may feel that they will have panic attacks at the point of having the injection which further leads to catastrophic thoughts and being unable to ‘see beyond’ the medical procedure. This also means that they may ruminate on the event even more as their brain subconsciously tries to find a way to deal with the event which may be coming up on the horizon. Rumination is one way for the mind to ‘think its way’ through an event that has happened and which had a marked impact on the nervous system of the individual. The problem with rumination is that it continues to maintain a phobia or a fear.
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Avoidance Behaviours Because of Trypanophobia or a Fear of ‘Needles’

Mandy (above) has highlighted some basic fears, concerns and difficulties that people who have a fear of needles and injections have.

She highlights how this fear affects the health and well-being of people so that they are unable to have vaccines, blood tests or even getting emergency treatments in hospital unless they are sedated.

This phobia of needles therefore has numerous effects. It means that people:

  • Struggle to maintain their health

  • Re-enforce the fear by pushing away or cancelling key medical appointments

  • Are unable to track the composition of their bloods which may take years for them to finally do. This makes them susceptible to other health conditions and they become unaware of raised cholesterol levels, low levels of iron and abnormal glucose levels etc.

  • It also made many vulnerable since they cancelled numerous appointments in the pandemic and therefore it was a risk to their health and to the health of others.

  • May intensively ruminate and anxiety conditions that are unchecked or untreated are known to grow. So, a needle phobia could potentially grow to include a fear of other medical and health treatments.

  • May also be highly anxious when admitted into hospital for emergency treatment because they fear fluids being administered intravenously.

The Longer the Fear of Needles Remains Unchallenged, the More Difficult it Becomes to Overcome it

The longer any fear is left unchallenged, the greater the perception in an individual that it is an insurmountable problem. One of the reasons that I work with clients who have a fear of needles is because when they manage to overcome this, they take an active interest in their health, instead of avoiding the management of their health. In particular, this phobia can have really significant negative health outcomes for people, the longer it is left untreated.

My work on assisting clients reduce their fear of needles uses multiple approaches which include psycho-educational work, cognitive behavioural therapy and cognitive challenge, hypnotherapy, Exposure and Response prevention work, problem solving, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and historical reflections that explore the early childhood health experiences which a client may have had..

One of the things about a fear of needles or injections, is that it can be treated quickly and the longer-term positive health benefits for the individual are significant. You can make that change. It is within you..

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Feel free to contact me via the form below or on 0208 906 6877 if you have any questions about how therapy works, or to arrange an initial assessment appointment.

All enquires are usually answered within 24 hours, and all contact is strictly confidential and uses secure phone and email services.

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