I’ve had a phobia of needles since I was four or five years old – I’m heading for my 30s.
It happened due to bad experiences in primary school of the nurses that used to come into school to give the vaccines.
I remember sitting on my mother’s lap and my mother had said that I had a needle phobia. The nurse’s response was, “Oh we will knock that out of you!”
I was roaring crying and high-pitched screaming. I couldn’t help it
She stuck the needle in my arm, being so rough that it was nearly came out the other side. I was roaring crying and high-pitched screaming. I couldn’t help it. I was then seeing stars and was put in this bed thing on the floor.
I have been avoiding getting the injections, especially the COVID-19 vaccines. Seeing the needle on TV doesn’t help. The anxiety is just horrific. I can hardly eat, sleep, let alone function daily. It’s getting out of control. I’d like to be in control of it, but it’s extremely challenging.
I’d be sitting there in the seat shaking, feeling extremely nauseous
It doesn’t matter if I have numbing cream on my arm because the feeling of the sharp needle in my arm is another thing. I’d be sitting there in the seat shaking, feeling extremely nauseous. Every time, I faint. It’s a very scary experience.
Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Kind regards,
Dear Needle Phobia,
Thank you for your email. Do you know that needle phobia (or trypanophobia) is more common than you probably think? According to Anxiety UK, one in ten people have a fear of needles. Often this is linked to an experience in childhood, such as the incident that you describe.
As well as avoiding injections and vaccines, however, it seems to be causing you a lot of distress in your day to day life. The good news is that there is help available and that needle phobia can be successfully overcome with the correct support.
While each client will be different, a professional therapist will work with you to understand the root causes of your fears
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is often used to challenge long-held phobias, as is exposure therapy. While each client will be different, a professional therapist will work with you to understand the root causes of your fears, to challenge and unpick these beliefs and to give you the tools you need to manage and move forward.
This might involve relaxation and breathing techniques
For example, with regards to exposure therapy, the therapist might work with you to build up your tolerance levels to needles; for instance, supporting you to look at pictures of needles/injections, then moving on to watching a video showing an injection, having a needle in front of you etc, and working with you through the feelings that come up and how to manage them. This might involve relaxation and breathing techniques. With regards to the fear of fainting, there is actually a simple technique called “Applied Tension” that is used to bring blood pressure back to normal levels so that you do not faint.
If you Google “Overcoming your needle phobia” and “Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust” you will find a very good document explaining this technique, as well as other tips for dealing with a fear of needles.
I personally know people who have had a life-long fear of needles, but have completely overcome this with professional support.
It’s a brave thing to challenge a long-held fear
The important thing is not to be embarrassed about it, but rather to feel empowered that you are going to do something about it. If you look up the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (iacp.ie) or The Irish Association of Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy (iahip.org) you will be able to find details of accredited therapists in your area.
Ring around and see who is the best fit for you, asking them if they have experience in supporting clients through needle phobia.
It’s a brave thing to challenge a long-held fear and I think you have taken the first step in your journey by writing this letter. I wish you the very best of luck.