The fear of needles or belonephobia (belone in Greek). Victims of belonephobia are numerous, and in particular they share a strong aversion to needles that supposedly sting them. Blood tests, drug injections or vaccines are the source of true outbursts of terror. As a misfortune rarely occurs alone, these phobias are , of course, also aichmophobic, as they fear sharp objects.
- This phobia refers to an irrational fear of an object (or a person) that has nothing objectively dangerous about it.
- If I am faced with a fire that threatens to destroy my home, I will have an objective fear that will justify a flight necessary for my survival.
- On the other hand, in the case of sharps phobia, nothing justifies this fear and the subject is perfectly aware of it, a sheet of paper, a pencil, a syringe are not dangerous objects.
- It is precisely the brain’s interpretation of these objects that will make them particularly threatening and justify their avoidance.
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The subject will fear in particular:
- Sharps are misused
- These objects can represent a danger to physical integrity
- Therefore, the patient will do everything possible to avoid them, which can have negative consequences for the subject; for example, refusing to go to the dentist.
What Causes Needle Phobia?
- This fear of needles is believed to have genetic and experimental origins, both innate and acquired.
- A high percentage of people with needle phobia have a close relative who shares the same phobia.
- In addition, past unpleasant experiences (own or others) with needles also play a role in this phobia.
- Puncture phobia is characterized by an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, followed by a drop in both indicators.
- So you should always keep in mind that your child may pass out.
- Lay your child down and make sure his legs are elevated during the injection.
- Once the injection is complete, make sure your child does not get up too quickly.
When they need to stick with a needle, people with needle phobia feel:
- Feeling great anxiety and intense fear;
- Increase heart rate and blood pressure
- As the heart rate increases and blood pressure increases, the body tries to compensate.
- This phenomenon, called the vasovagal reflex, slows the heart rate and lowers blood pressure.
- The vasovagal reflex is sometimes so strong that the person loses consciousness or passes out.
How to react in the presence of a vasovagal reflex?
- Make sure your child or teen is lying down when injecting, inserting an IV, or drawing blood.
- Ask him to lie down for a few minutes after the bite and to get up very slowly.
- Ask him to contract the muscles of his body by relaxing only those of the arm that received the bite.
Belonephobia and fear of blood
- Often associated with blood sight phobia or hematophobia , needle cravings often cause vagal discomfort.
- Unlike others, these two categories of phobias do not cause nervousness or a desire to run away, but rather slow blood flow and a decrease in heart rate.
- In the most severe cases, simply considering confronting the object of your fear causes cold sweats and tremors.
- Such a phobia is a major obstacle for women who want to have a child. In fact, before conception and later during pregnancy, they must undergo various biological tests that require blood samples.
- And of course, belonephobia is also disabling in the case of screening tests or for vaccination.
Who can suffer from this fear?
- Almost everyone, young and old, has at least some aversion to needles.
- When fear becomes so intense that it prevents the patient from receiving essential injections, vaccinations, or blood tests, it is called a needle phobia.
- If we think about the future of your child, in extreme cases, his phobia of needles can cause him to miss opportunities, if blood tests or vaccines are required for jobs, insurance, travel or for school or marriage obligations.
- In many cases, any visit to a healthcare professional can be worrisome for a young child.
- Pull out a needle in the midst of strangers in a new environment and in the midst of unfamiliar sounds, and you are very likely to destabilize the child.
- But as a loving parent, you can help him. You may be afraid of needles yourself.
- Show empathy.
- You can explain to your child that many people, young and old, feel the same way.
- About 10% of the population is said to have needle phobia.
Treatment of belonephobia
- Lie down, not look at the needle, think about something else, etc.
- All of these “little things” can help the patient overcome his apprehensions.
- If this is not enough, cognitive and behavioral therapy will tame the fear and trivialize it.
- The main characteristic of the phobia will be negative and catastrophic thoughts (I will make an upset, etc.).
- The goal of therapy is to first analyze these thoughts to make them more objective.
- This is known in cognitive and behavioral therapy (CBT) as cognitive restructuring.
- Quite quickly, 3 to 4 sessions, the subject will see a significant improvement in their physical symptoms (less palpitations, sweating, negative thoughts).
- The second stage of therapy will consist of prioritizing avoidance and, with a simple method, we will learn not to avoid more.
- What you can do to help; honesty is a good approach to dealing with your child’s apprehension.
- Don’t tell the patient that the needle won’t hurt when he or she may be in pain; you will greatly undermine your credibility. You may consider giving your child more control.
- Give him options. Does he want you in the room? Do you want more information?
- Knowledge and understanding are part of the sense of control. Whatever the reason for the injection, you can tell your child that it is for his or her own good.
- Depending on the age of the child, it can be as simple as “we will give you a little boo-boo right here to make you feel better …”, or more explicit as “this injection is necessary so that we can cure, prevent or test (depending on be the case) you… ».
- You can also ask your doctor or nurse to numb the skin where the injection will be given with ice or an anesthetic ointment.
- Using noisy toys or video games before and during the injection can also be a good way to distract your child. And don’t forget to cheer him on.
- She is a brave girl who goes to great lengths to go to the doctor’s office and get her injection.
- In addition to the benefit of the injection itself, this is an excellent opportunity to teach a valuable life lesson – the concept of “short-term harm that can be long-term beneficial.”
- As always, ask your child’s doctor for more information.
- A doctor can suggest other strategies for dealing with needle phobia and can refer you and your child to a psychologist if necessary.
Advice for children and adolescents
Try to distract him
Take your child’s attention away from fear by offering:
- Play with a portable console;
- Listen to music;
- Play with a toy that makes sounds;
- Touch “Guess what I see.” or some other similar game;
- Close your eyes completely and turn your head in the opposite direction;
- Talk about a fun activity you did recently.
Lead by example by staying calm
- It will be easier for your child to stay calm if you do, too.
- If you are not afraid of needles, take your child with you the next time you take or draw blood.
- Find a way to control your fear if you are having trouble seeing your child get an injection.
- Often times, parents of children with needle phobia also suffer.
- Don’t hesitate to consult a mental health professional to learn how to overcome your fear.
Highlight the positives
- Praise your child or teen for their courage and positive attitude;
- Point out your child’s little progress, even if the injection was ultimately not possible;
- Plan a reward after the puncture, but be very clear about your expectations and the nature of the reward.
- For example: “You will have to sit still during the injection, but then we will go for ice cream.
Avoid highlighting the negatives
- Many adults recall being teased, belittled, or humiliated when they were young because of their phobia of needles.
- Being angry or frustrated in front of your child will not help you. If your child or adolescent cannot control his fear, show him that you understand his distress and then say something encouraging.
- For example: “I know this is very difficult for you, but the cream we just applied will make things easier for you.
- Let’s talk about this movie that made us die laughing, do you remember the part where… ».
- Children and teens with needle phobia sometimes have anxiety-enhancing thoughts, such as “It’s going to hurt! or “I’ll never make it!”
- Help your child develop a positive attitude: “It doesn’t hurt that much! or «It only lasts a few seconds!
Techniques to overcome fear of needles
Many children do not like needles. However, if this fear prevents them from receiving an injection, do not hesitate to consult a professional to help your child. Doctors and nurses use strategies to help young people control their fear.
If these techniques are not enough, ask your doctor for a referral to another professional, such as a psychologist. Psychologists often use the following approaches to help children and teens overcome their needle phobia.
Approaches used to treat needle phobia
This is a “step-by-step” approach that breaks down the steps involved in giving the injection to learn to control your fear little by little.
- Watching books or videos showing a doctor visit and taking a shot. Many children’s hospitals also have a page on their website that provides information on the subject;
- Young children can play “doctor” or “nurse” with a medical kit. They may “bite” each other or a doll or stuffed animal. With older children and adolescents, the therapist can use real needles and encourage the young to do so:
- Look at the needle;
- Handles the needle;
- Place the needle on the skin, but do not pierce it.
- The use of real needles is rare and should be reserved for treatment by a mental health professional
- Go to the doctor’s office and spend some time in the waiting room;
- Go to the doctor’s office, spend time in the waiting room, meet the doctor, and get an injection.
Relaxation and breathing exercises
- When we are nervous, we tend to breathe faster.
- Deep breaths can be very effective in calming yourself down.
- Focusing on breathing can also help young people divert their attention from the needle.
- Your child can learn and practice techniques to calm down and relax.
- It is about being able to produce images in the head, such as being in a quiet place or in a calm situation, during the bite.
- A family doctor or psychologist trained in hypnosis techniques can help a child or adolescent to achieve a feeling of deep relaxation (hypnotic state).
Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.