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Needle Phobia (Trypanophobia)

Author: Shelley Ensz. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer
Medical Records
Famous People


Summer by Janet Paulmenn, ISN ArtistAbout 10% of people have a needle phobia, but there's no more need to suffer from the devastating effects of this disorder.

We'll learn about it's many causes, some surprisingly easy treatments, and how to protect yourself in the event of a medical emergency.

Dangers of Needle Phobia

Sadly, needle phobia is one of the few phobias that can directly cause an early death, by preventing people from seeking necessary medical or dental treatment.

Due to fear of needles, often people will postpone care until it is simply too late. This is very unfortunate because it is an easily treatable condition.

Symptoms of Needle Phobia

Symptoms of needle phobia include dizziness, fainting, anxiety, insomnia, panic attacks, high blood pressure or racing heart right beforehand, feeling physically or emotionally violent, and avoiding or running away from medical care.

Causes of Needle Phobia

The specific symptoms induced by needle phobia are directly related to its underlying cause, making it rather straightforward to identify the actual source and treat it.

1. Fainting. People who suffer from severe dizziness or fainting in response to needles typically have vasovagal reflex reaction, which often runs in the family.

2. Bad Memories or Ruminations. People who experience emotional reactions such as anxiety, insomnia, and panic attacks are suffering from emotions provoked by prior experiences (or imaginings). Their fears can be activated at any time, and they often have other medically-related fears as well.

3. Pain Intensity. Some people have a genetic condition that makes them extremely sensitive to pain. They cannot understand how other people can so bravely tolerate the enormous physical pain of a shot. They react to the pain with high anxiety, blood pressure and/or high heart rate, at some time during the procedure.

4. Fear of Being Restrained. People with this variety of needle phobia are actually afraid of being held down or controlled (restrained), even though they may think the needle itself is the actual issue. They typically develop a high heart rate, and may become physcially or emotionally violent or may even try to run away.

5. Empathetic. Watching someone else receive a shot or medical care precipitates one of the above reactions.

Treatments for Needle Phobia

See your doctor for diagnosis of needle phobia and a treatment plan. This is something you want in your medical chart, right now, long before you have a pressing need, so that appropriate preventive measures are in place for you.

Your treatment plan should be tailored to the actual underlying cause of your phobia, as briefly described here:

1. Fainting Reflex. People with the vasovagal reflex reaction may need to lay down during all needle procedures and/or take certain blood pressure medications. And that's all!

2. Bad Memories or Ruminations. Emotional responses to needles are helped by cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, and/or anti-anxiety medication. If medication is part of your plan, get the medication prescribed right away, so you have it on hand the next time you need it.

3. Pain Intensity. People in this category are helped enormously by always having topical (rubbed on) anesthetic beforehand and/or general anesthesia such as laughing gas (nitrous oxide).

4. Fear of Being Restrained. Ask to learn how to give injections to yourself, because it's very easy to learn for most shots. If you have a chronic condition that needs ongoing blood tests or infusions, you might want to ask to have a permanent port put in.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy certainly won't ever have you embracing your phlebotomist, but it might really help you tolerate them better. Even with that, though, you'll probably always prefer to give yourself your own shots whenever that is feasible.

5. Empathetic. Unfortunately, your phobia is likely to be triggered in emergency situations, so understanding it now and developing a solid prevention plan may be crucial not only for you, but for others as well.

As a temporary fix, try to avoid situations where others are receiving medical treatment. Whenever possible, don't watch or assist or be present.

If you faint, take the steps for the fainting reflex; if your response is emotional, try CBT, hypnosis and/or anti-anxiety medication.

Needle Phobia. This article avoids provacative descriptions and explicit photos, enabling needle phobics to understand and find the best approach for them to overcome this often life-threatening condition.

Is It Possible to Just Deal With a Phobia? Suck It Up, Get Over It, and Other Advice. Although these words of wisdom can motivate and encourage those who are experiencing everyday nerves, they can actually be paralyzing to those suffering with legitimate phobias. VeryWell.

Incidence of Phobias

You are not alone and in fact, you are in great company!

Over 6 million Americans suffer from a diagnosed phobia; over 70% of people have a phobia about public speaking.

Over 10% of people have an acknowledged needle phobia, with many more having a strong dislike and/or moderate fear of needles.

Medical Records and Alerts

Regardless of your type of needle phobia, you are going to need ongoing preventive care for it. Don't leave this to chance!

Cover all your bases by listing the phobia, and your treatment plan, in all your medical and dental records.

Any phobia is going to be even worse in a medical emergency, so plan ahead to manage it. Sign up for a medical alert plan and list your phobia and treatment on your engraved medical alert bracelet or necklace.

Let your loved ones know that you have this potentially life-threatening condition and whatever steps that must be taken for you to be able to receive proper medical care.

Famous People with Needle Phobias

It is unacceptable behavior for people to make fun, deride, or dismiss the concerns of anyone suffering from a phobia. But of course, some people (also known as idiots, spouses, children, friends, and doctors) will probably try it anyway.

That is why you want to memorize this short list of famous people who have publicly acknowledged having needle phobia.

Famous people with phobias include Sonny Liston (world boxing champion), Jackie Chan (martial arts star), and Alice Cooper (an otherwise totally fearless rock star).

Go to Pain

SCLERO.ORG was the world's leading nonprofit for trustworthy research, support, education and awareness for scleroderma and related illnesses from 1998 to 2021. It was a grassroots movement from the original Scleroderma from A to Z web site, which was founded by Shelley Ensz. We were a 501(c)(3) U.S.-based public charitable foundation. We closed this web site and our nonprofit agency in April 2021.

International Scleroderma Network (ISN)