How to Overcome a Fear of Needles (From Someone Who Has Done It)


Sometimes it took 3 nurses to carry me down. This might sound excessive, however it was fully crucial, as I had a bent to cry, squirm my approach out of my chair and run down the hallway of the pediatric phlebotomy division to flee. 

It was the summer time between 2nd grade and 3rd grade, and due to issues with the chickenpox virus, I ended up with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, which meant I wanted to get my blood drawn weekly. ITP is a blood dysfunction characterised by low platelet counts and bruising very simply and might look quite a bit like leukemia. In order to verify my counts weren’t veering into harmful territory, I had a standing weekly appointment for a blood take a look at for a complete summer time. 

I am unsure who dreaded these appointments extra: me or the nurses tasked with accumulating my blood samples. As quickly as I might sit in that arduous plastic chair with 1 elongated armrest, I might rework from a sassy however mild-mannered 7-year-old right into a creature from a horror movie. I had all the time been afraid of needles, however this time, it wasn’t only a vaccine I used to be getting within the faculty nurse’s workplace. I knew the outcomes of this blood take a look at might imply I used to be sick sufficient to have to remain within the hospital in a single day.

More: My Anxiety Got Me Fired From 5 Jobs

Eventually, I did make it by way of all my appointments that summer time, and my platelet counts returned to regular. As a peace providing, my mom made me draw an “I’m sorry” image for the nurses on the lab, most likely within the hopes that my horrible conduct would not find yourself on my everlasting medical document.

But it did not finish there. For years, each time I needed to get a shot or have my blood drawn, I might be nauseated for a number of days earlier than the injection due to the anxiousness. This lasted nicely into my 20s, and each time the needle would come out within the physician’s workplace or lab, I might attempt to persuade myself that this time will probably be totally different and I will be advantageous.

And surprisingly, at some point, it was. But earlier than I get into what ended up lastly working for me, here is what I discovered from talking to 2 physicians about trypanophobia — a flowery phrase for the acute concern of needles.

What causes a concern of needles?

Like many fears, trypanophobia can stem from quite a lot of experiences or circumstances. On a logistical degree, an individual (like myself) may need very small veins, which may make it troublesome for blood to be drawn, generally necessitating a number of needle sticks because the clinician makes an attempt to find vein, Dr. Mimi Trinh, a household medication doctor at Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California, tells SheKnows.

But there are many psychological causes behind having a concern of needles too.

“Needle-phobic people may have had previous painful experiences (learned conditioning) with injections or vicariously through witnessing a family member having had an undesirable experience with needles or injections,” Dr. Trung Tristan Truong, a pediatrician at MemorialCare Medical Group in San Juan Capistrano, California, tells SheKnows. He additionally notes that it is potential there could also be a hereditary predisposition to the phobia.

Other potential causes for having a concern of needles can embrace generalized anxiousness or having a delicate or damaging temperament, earlier trauma, having fainted or had extreme dizziness attributable to a vasovagal response to pictures or blood attracts previously, hypochondria, sensitivity to ache or reminiscences of painful needle sticks and a concern of being restrained, Trinh says. 

What will help somebody recover from a concern of needles?

Like the causes of a needle phobia, the potential methods to assist may be each bodily and psychological. For instance, Trinh says that psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral remedy and publicity remedy can all be helpful in treating varied sorts of phobia. 

“Therapists are trained to help patients develop coping skills towards certain fears and exploring where the fears may be coming from,” Trinh notes. “However, if underlying anxiety could be a factor, then treatment with medications to help reduce anxiety may help as well.” 

In extra excessive circumstances, Truong says that some individuals discover taking antianxiety medicines useful in addition to nonmedical anxiety-reducing methods, like deep respiration, studying, listening to music or watching a video. A chest-to-chest hug for a kid from a dad or mum or guardian might also be comforting for them, he notes. Children might also fare higher if they’re supplied a reward after receiving their pictures or having their blood drawn, Truong provides.

If the bodily ache is the foundation reason for the concern, Truong says that there are numbing lotions or gels that could be utilized over the injection web site previous to the medical go to in addition to gadgets (just like the Buzzy) that may transmit chilly and vibration sensation to the pores and skin to distract from or divert the precise ache sensation from the needle or injection utilizing the idea of “gate control theory of pain.”

What labored for me?

At some level throughout my mid to late 20s, my concern of needles sort of simply went away by itself with out me actually realizing it till after I had my blood drawn and was strolling residence from the physician’s workplace. At that stage of my life, my unmedicated anxiousness dysfunction and melancholy had been actually kicking into excessive gear, and in contrast with all the pieces else I used to be anxious and/or depressed about, a bit needle did not appear that dangerous.

I additionally realized that this ache I used to be so afraid of was really fairly minimal when in comparison with different sorts of ache I expertise regularly — primarily menstrual cramps. Those suckers are so excruciating each month that when it got here time to getting a shot or blood drawn, I might go into it bracing for the ache of interval cramps, and when that skinny needle made its approach into my arm, it felt like a mild caress compared. 

Of course, not everybody may be this fortunate on the subject of painful intervals and anxiousness and melancholy, however in each circumstances, it was extra a matter of me placing this brief rendezvous with a needle into perspective. Not solely has this made journeys to the physician simpler, it has additionally freed up the time I beforehand spent making apology drawings for nurses and phlebotomists, so win-win. 

(Editor references)

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