Needle phobias are surprisingly common, with 1 in 10 of us in the UK suffering from them, referred to as trypanophobia. Due to the COVID19 vaccination programme now is a great time to overcome your phobia.
To be honest, most people don’t like having injections particularly, but a phobia is an overwhelming and uncontrollable reaction to needles triggering the flight or fight response.
There are different types of needle phobia, with different therapeutic ways of overcoming them. Our bodies are designed to respond to any breaks in the surface of the skin, and when this happens our mind and body can’t help but respond. Even People who are absolutely fine with having injections, or blood tests etc. will experience a change in their physiology to some extent, usually an increase in heart rate and blood pressure even if it is only slight.
The vasovagal response is common amongst needle phobias. This causes a drop in blood pressure and heart rate when punctured with a needle, which in turn causes a fall in blood supply to the brain. So, what does the body do to overcome this? It forces us to re-address the balance by getting our head to the floor by fainting.
Some people can’t even talk about, or see needles as this response is so strong, even watching someone getting an injection on TV can cause a heightened state of arousal.
Many people however can feel faint, but don’t actually faint. Time to allow the body to return to a state of homeostasis is needed here, so sitting for a while after the procedure is extremely helpful, rather than jumping up and scooting out of the door.
Other types of needle phobia are acquired through your experiences. As babies we don’t come into the world with a fear of needles. It is believed that only the startle response (fear of loud noises) and the fear of falling are the ones we are born with. Many needle phobias are learned. This can be through previous traumatic experiences. Up to 20% of needle phobias are Resistive responses, which means that the individual has a previous experience of being restrained in some way to have a procedure (or fear of), for example if a child is held down to get a vaccination. The anxiety that this causes (even if it was well intentioned) can result in a phobia being formed.
We can even pic up a phobia vicariously – so just by seeing someone have a negative reaction to a needle can establish a phobia.
The most obvious cause of a needle phobia, is if we ourselves have had a negative experience which then goes onto to create a negative association with needles (associated response).
The great new is that solution focused hypnotherapy can help people overcome their fear using specific techniques that help the brain recreate a positive template, enabling you to have your vaccine and continue living life to the full.