HEMOPHOBIA….THERE IS A WAY TO TREAT IT
While some people may feel uneasy about blood from time to time, hemophobia is an extreme fear of seeing blood, or getting tests or shots where blood may be involved. This phobia can have a serious impact on your life, especially if you skip important doctor appointments as a result.
What are the symptoms?
- extreme feelings of anxiety or panic
- overwhelming need to escape situations where blood is involved
- detachment from self or feeling “unreal”
- feeling like you’ve lost control
- feeling like you may die or pass out
- feeling powerless over your fear
What are the risk factors?
Researchers estimate that between 3 and 4 percent of the population experiences BII phobia. Specific phobias often first arise in childhood, between the ages of 10 and 13.
Additional risk factors include:
Genetics. Some people are more likely to develop phobias than others. There may be a genetic link, or you may be particularly sensitive or emotional by nature.
Anxious parent or caregiver. You may learn to fear something after seeing fear patterned. For example, if a child sees their mother is fearful of blood, they may develop a phobia around blood, too.
Overprotective parent or caregiver. Some people may develop a more generalized anxiety. This may result from being in an environment where you were overly dependent on an overprotective parent.
Trauma. Stressful or traumatic events may lead to a phobia. With blood, this may be related to hospital stays or serious injuries involving blood.
The average age of onset for hemophobia is 9.3 years for males and 7.5 years for females.
What are the treatment options?
A therapist will guide exposure to your fears on an ongoing basis. Some exposure therapy plans blend these approaches. They can be incredibly effective, working in as little as one session.
A therapist may help you identify feelings of anxiety around blood. The idea is to replace the anxiety with more “realistic” thoughts of what may actually happen during tests or injuries involving blood.
Anything from deep breathing to exercise to yoga may help treat phobias. Engaging in relaxation techniques can help you diffuse stress and ease physical symptoms.
A method of therapy called applied tension may help with the fainting effects of hemophobia. In one older study, participants who tried this technique were able to watch a half hour video of a surgery without fainting.
In severe cases, medication may be necessary. However, it’s not always an appropriate treatment for specific phobias. More research is needed, but it’s an option to discuss with your doctor.