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Trypanophobia: phobia and fear of needles and injections, symptoms and how it is treated – Health



Last week the National Vaccination Plan against covid-19 began in Colombia, and while in social networks some health professionals were extremely happy to be immunized against the coronavirus, Others openly confessed fears as old as they were genuine: of needles and syringes.

According to clinical psychologist Sandra Herrera, talking about this issue is important in times of vaccines. Specifically, it explains that It is one of the most frequent fears and when it is extreme it is known as trypanophobia.

According to the expert, this fear seems insignificant, but it can become a real obstacle when it comes to doing treatments, applying medications or even taking a basic blood test.

The psychiatrist Rodrigo Córdoba, former president of the Colombian Association of Scientific Societies, assures that trypanophobes have really dramatic effects when they have to give themselves an injection or go to a hospital out of obligation, to the point that they can even avoid these situations, without measuring the risks that this implies for their life.

(Also read: They find key genetic variation to develop severe covid-19)

In fact, many of them, given the impossibility of having treatments that prevent punctures, allow diseases to advance or simply do not protect themselves against them.

What does it consist of?

Herrera clarifies that a phobia is an intense, irrational and persistent fear of situations, objects, activities or people that are harmless to others. The main symptom of this disorder is an excessive desire to avoid what causes fear.

And in the case of trypanophobia, it is manifested by an exaggerated anxiety in the presence of needles, syringes and the possibility of receiving injections. Córdoba says that this fear is so common that it can occur in one in 10 people, with manifestations of different degrees.

Here it is necessary to clarify, according to Herrera, that the fear of needles and injections must be differentiated from another fear, such as the one that some people present to blood, known as hematophobia, or the fear of sharp objects (aicmophobia), in reason that the fear of injections and needles for medical procedures most of the time occurs only in the presence of these elements.

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What’s behind?

Córdoba states that fear of needles and injections usually develops during childhood, from some traumatic experience that can last into adulthood.

The issue, says the psychiatrist, is that the affected people end up considering the needles and injections a serious threat to their physical integrity and although they do not believe that they will die from this cause, They become convinced that the pain may be so strong that they will not be able to bear it.

Herrera adds that these fears are derived from a type of learning in which humans can relate strong emotions through conditioning (the image or presence of injections) and generalize them with similar situations.

Herrera adds that this phobia can develop through observation, such as, for example, when a child observes that an adult may complain or scream when receiving an injection or when these reactions are shown through other means.

In addition to the above, Córdoba states that there may be some genetic causes related to the human capacity to survive. “It is good to be afraid to defend oneself from adverse situations, the problem is when this is exaggerated,” concludes Córdoba, who also insists that these reactions are not rational and that must always be taken into account.

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Symptoms

Córdoba and Herrera agree that fear of needles and injections manifests itself with signs and symptoms similar to those of any phobia and Among them are fear and a feeling of anguish and anxiety in front of syringes, needles and the possibility of receiving injections.

This is compounded by irrational thoughts and the feeling that something serious may happen, Herrera adds. Of course, Córdoba points out that the behavioral reaction is to avoid any situation related to an injection, in addition to the fact that physically the person may present tachycardia, increased breathing, nausea, pain, a feeling of suffocation, dry mouth and even lose knowledge.

How is it treated?

At times when all people must be subjected to the application of the vaccine against covid -19, these fears can be made evident and therefore should not be minimized, Herrera says, adding that they must understand each other and find a way to serve the affected people with priority.

Sandra Herrera explains that most cases require psychological treatments that are effective and aim to modulate thoughts, emotions and beliefs, through different techniques.

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Here it is important, in the expert’s opinion, to find a way to systematically sensitize the reactions to exposure of needles and syringes in a gradual way.

Córdoba states that acceptance and commitment strategies can also be used, in which behaviors are not modified but rather the experience is accepted, without neglecting that in some extreme cases medications such as anxiolytics may be required and ruling out that there are other problems of emotional type requiring attention.

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