Needle phobia or trypanophobia may be defined as the anxiety or extreme fear of needles. When people with trypanophobia think about or are near needles, they have significant emotional and physical reactions. Even if they understand the importance of a vaccine or a normal blood test, they find it incredibly difficult to overcome their fear.
According to Dr. Ashley Love, a public health practitioner and assistant professor at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, the most common trypanophobia symptoms include nausea, sweating, palpitations, dizziness, fainting or insomnia before taking a shot.
As individuals tend to avoid medical institutions or medical care in general, it’s difficult to estimate how many people have trypanophobia. However, Love thinks that among Americans, the figure could range from 11.5 to 66 million.
Needle phobia can lead to avoiding vaccination which not only put at risk the concerned people but they can also put others at risk, such as those who can’t (yet) get the COVID-19 vaccine such as youngsters under the age of 11, because it weakens immunity.
While the exact number of persons who don’t get the COVID-19 vaccine due to needle phobia/trypanophobia is unknown, a 2019 study found that one in every six adults avoids flu shots due to a fear of needles.
Having needle phobia, however, does not prevent patients from receiving immunizations for diseases such as influenza and COVID-19. “Because those who are afraid of needles avoid going to the doctor, any early diagnosis of diseases will be overlooked,” Love explains.
Causes associated with needle phobia
Researchers cannot be certain on the reason why needle phobia spreads, but they believe that family life and heredity play a significant effect.
According to Love’s research, four out of every five adults who suffer from needle phobia have a first-degree relative who suffers from the same phobia.
Needle phobia may be the tenth most frequent phobia and it’s the most common phobia treated in Indianapolis.
“Some patients can’t pinpoint when their fear began, although it may have been triggered by a needle-related event. Vaccinations for newborns and little children are usually given at this time.”
Childhood immunizations, particularly those given between the ages of 4 and 6, have a significant impact on vaccine anxiety as children get older, according to a 2017 study published in the journal Vaccine.
Future research should look for ways to make vaccines for preschoolers less traumatic, according to the researchers. The following are some suggestions: utilizing relaxation techniques when children start to feel terrified; reducing harsh lighting during shots; having children look away while getting a shot and allowing kids watch trustworthy adults get shots to demonstrate that it doesn’t have to be scary.
While there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to treating trypanophobia, there are professionals who specialize in helping people with phobia overcome their fears.
Trypanophobia has no cure, however therapies such as exposure therapy and distraction tactics can help people survive.
The most effective treatment for phobias like needle fear is exposure therapy, which involves intentionally exposing patients to their fear in a safe atmosphere.
“[Exposure treatment] targets the overall phobia, not just one incidence.” “Other distraction techniques can be applied, but they will not alleviate the worry. At the moment, it’s more like putting a Band-Aid on the fear.”
There are alternative ways to cope with the symptoms of trypanophobia when you have to take a shot if you can’t find a therapist who specializes in exposure treatment.