Trypanophobia is the extreme fear of hypodermic needles or injections in medical procedures. While it is normal for anyone to have a certain level of discomfort or fear related to these procedures, the trypanophobic fears them so much that he or she either avoids medical treatment altogether, or exhibits other forms of avoidant or anxious behavior. Sometimes people with this disorder faint when exposed to needles or injection, even when the procedure does not involve them.
Symptoms of Trypanophobia
Identifying the disorder is best left to a doctor, but if a person exhibits the following symptoms when in the presence of needles or injections, or even if he or she shows these symptoms when needles or injections are mentioned, trypanophobia may be to blame. Some symptoms of the disorder include:
- Feelings of dread or panic
- Automatic or uncontrollable reactions
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme avoidance
Causes of Trypanophobia
A wide variety of unique factors contribute to the development of this phobia. These factors vary for each sufferer, but they are often the result of certain traumatic experiences. Some of these could include being witness to a painful medical procedure first or second hand, a fear of being restrained or controlled as a result of repressive upbringing, or poor handling of needles or injection-related medical procedures in the past. Still, unlike many other phobias, trypanophobia may be the result of physical hypersensitivity. Whether this is simply imagined or real can only be determined on a case-by-case basis, but either way is usually relieved with anesthetics.
Treatment of Trypanophobia
It is important to treat trypanophobia early, as the sufferer’s condition may become worse over time. At one point or another, a medical procedure involving a needle or injection may be very important or necessary. A patient with trypanophobia will only resist such medical procedures at all cost, often to the detriment of his or her own health. Furthermore, blood-injection-injury phobias like trypanophobia are among the few that can actually result in fainting. The rapid acceleration and resultant deceleration in heart rate and blood pressure can even prove fatal for some patients when fainting occurs.
Some therapists opt to use cognitive behavioral therapy. With this type of treatment, the patient meets with the therapist and in a systematic and gradual progression confronts the source of fear while learning to control the physical and mental reactions to it. By facing the phobia head on, the patient becomes accustomed to it and thus ultimately realizes that his or her initial fears were not grounded in real or imminent danger. With trypanophobia, this treatment could include meeting the doctor who will administer an injection, or simply being in the presence of needles or other related medical equipment.
If you are searching for help with trypanophobia, finding it is quite easy. There are plenty of therapists and peer groups willing to help not only with the disorder but also the psychological difficulties attendant with it. If self-help is not working, do not hesitate to reach out to these resources for support.
- American Psychiatric Association – info about phobias in general, causes, treatment.
- Wikipedia – explanation of various sources of the phobia.
- helpguide.org – info on blood-injection-injury phobias and symptoms.