How to Overcome Blood Injury and Injection (BII) Phobia

If the sight, smell, or even the thought of blood makes you queasy, uncomfortable, or downright panicked, you’re not alone. Three to four percent of the population experiences blood injury and injection (BII) phobia. With this common psychiatric disorder, sufferers are so fearful of being exposed to blood or a medical professional taking a blood sample or receiving an injection—such as a vaccine—that they will avoid medical appointments and critical care entirely.

While blood draws and vaccines may provide temporary discomfort, blood testing is critical to identifying health risks, and vaccines are critical to protecting our population from contagious viruses and other diseases—such as COVID-19. If you suffer from BII, overcoming your fear is critical to ensure you don’t feel the need to avoid medical care and maintain regular preventive and chronic care appointments with your trusted medical care team.

Symptoms of Blood Injury and Injection Phobia

At the sight or prospect of blood, a blood-inducing injury, or an injection, BII phobic individuals may experience:

  • Decreased blood pressure leading to fainting
  • Anxiety and intense, irrational fear of seeing blood, being injured or disabled, or receiving an injection
  • Avoidance behaviors

How to Overcome a Blood Injury and Injection Phobia with Applied Tension (AT)

If your fear of blood, an injury, or injection is so intense that you find yourself avoiding doctor appointments, routine tests, or vaccines, talk to your doctor or seek treatment by a certified mental health care provider. A common treatment for BII phobia is Applied Tension (AT), a technique to help BII phobic individuals prevent fainting or recover more quickly if they faint. AT involves tensing your muscles, which raises your blood pressure, making you less likely to faint.

If you would like to learn about AT as a viable method for coping with your BII phobia, talk to your doctor or a mental health care provider to determine if AT is right for you and for assistance in learning how to apply the methodology to the situations in which you find yourself fearful.

In general, to apply AT, you may be directed to follow steps such as those outlined below:

  • Sit comfortably and tense your arms, legs, and core muscles for 10 – 15 seconds or until you feel a warm sensation in your head
  • Relax your body for 20 to 30 seconds and return to a normal state; avoid allowing yourself to be overcome with feelings of relaxation, which may cause your blood pressure to drop
  • Repeat the cycle five times

If your care provider advises that AT may be a viable technique to help you cope with BII phobia, your care provider may encourage you to practice your AT technique a few times a day for at least a week before you expect to be exposed to blood or an injection to help you mindfully master the technique so that you can use it effectively when needed.

When to Talk to Your Doctor

If you feel paralyzed by the possibility of being exposed to blood, are terrified of a blood-inducing injury, or avoid necessary routine testing or vaccines out of a desire to avoid needles, or if you have ever fainted at the sight of blood, talk to your doctor. BII phobia is an understandable and treatable condition. With proper support and a master of a treatment plan prescribed by your doctor, you can reclaim your confidence over any medical setting.

How to Talk to Your Doctor About Your Mental Health

No one should have to suffer in silence, especially when the battle they are fighting is against a challenge that only they can feel. The term mental health covers a broad spectrum of emotional and mental ailments and conditions that affect millions of people worldwide of all ages, abilities, backgrounds, and financial statuses. One in five adolescents globally live with a mental disorder, and almost half of U.S. adults will experience a mental illness during their lifetime.

If you are among the millions living with depression, an eating disorder, anxiety, panic disorder, a personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or a psychotic disorder, you are not alone. You are surrounded by a community of people who understand what it feels like to live with a complicated condition. You are also only a phone call away from a care provider who will help you understand your condition, risk factors that trigger your symptoms and help you develop a treatment plan to ensure you maximize every day and lead a full and fully capable lifestyle.

If you believe that you may be suffering from a mental health disorder, talking about your concerns can be one of the most challenging but critical first steps you will take on your road to recovery. If you’re ready to talk to your doctor about  your mental health concerns, use this guide to help you confidently say those first, vital first words: “I need help.”

How to Start the Conversation with Your Doctor About Your Mental Health

Your doctor may perform a mental health screening during your annual physical. You may also consider scheduling an appointment with your doctor to discuss your concerns at any time throughout the year. The easiest way to begin a conversation with your doctor about your mental health is by describing your symptoms. Be specific about your symptoms and describe the frequency with which you experience them.

You may start the discussion with a simple statement. “I am concerned that [frequency] I feel [symptom]. Should I be worried?” Such statements may sound like:

  • “…Every day, I find myself obsessing over my weight and heavily constricting my calories…”
  • “…at least three days a week, I find myself so worried about things in my life that I can’t control that I struggle to get out of bed. About once a month, I even call in sick to work.”
  • “…I struggle throughout the day to control my emotions. Sometimes, for days at a time, I feel depressed or angry at everyone for no reason. Then it passes, and I feel like I have an abnormal amount of energy.”
  • “…several times a week, I’m not able to sleep because I have nightmares about my recent military service.”

Your doctor will ask specific and probing questions based on your opening statement to help them diagnose your condition, if necessary. Be patient and thoughtful in your answers. Your doctor may also want to ask questions about your medical and family history and about situations in your life that may be causing you stress. Be honest about whether you are suffering from financial difficulties, have recently suffered the loss of a loved one, or are going through a divorce. Such situations can cause extreme stress and result in depression and anxiety.

Also, be prepared with questions of your own, such as:

  • I often feel physical pain in my joints and muscles. Could depression be the cause?
  • Is anxiety hereditary?
  • Could my diet or sleep habits be contributing to my depression?
  • Could medication trigger my symptoms?
  • What can I do to manage my symptoms without or alongside medication?

The most important thing you should know is that there is no wrong way to talk to your doctor about your mental health symptoms. Asking for help from a medical professional is always the first critical step to reclaiming your life and learning to manage your condition.

Stroke Awareness Month and Increasing Dialogue About the Signs and Risk Factors

May is stroke awareness month, a time to reflect on the millions of people and their loved ones affected by this dangerous medical emergency. One American has a stroke every 40 seconds, and every four minutes, a stroke takes a victim’s life. Many of the risk factors that can lead to stroke can be avoided with simple lifestyle changes. This month, commit to understanding the risks and symptoms of stroke and making the wellness changes needed to minimize your chances of suffering a dangerous and potentially deadly stroke.

What is a Stroke?

When a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain becomes blocked by a clot or bursts, the brain cannot receive the necessary amount of blood and oxygen it needs to perform optimally. As a result, brain cells die. This occurrence, known as a stroke, can result in temporary or permanent disability or possibly death.

Stroke Risk Factors

Many risk factors that can lead to stroke are avoidable. Some, unfortunately, are genetic or otherwise not preventable. Stroke risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Diets high in saturated fat
  • A physically inactive lifestyle
  • Obesity
  • Being age 65 or over
  • Family history of stroke
  • Race, as African Americans are at a higher risk of stroke than Caucasians
  • Gender, as women are at a greater risk of stroke than men
  • Having suffered a previous heart attack, transient ischemic attacks (TIA), or stroke
  • Carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease, atrial fibrillation, and other forms of heart disease
  • Sickle cell anemia

The Signs and Symptoms of Stroke

Acting quickly at the sign of a stroke can be the difference between recovering fully and being left with a long, difficult permanent disability or losing one’s life. Signs of a stroke may include the following sudden symptoms:

  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion, difficulty speaking, or understanding speech
  • Severe headache
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, a lack of coordination, or a loss of balance
  • Difficulty seeing out of one or both eyes

What to Do if You Believe You May be Suffering a Stroke

If you believe you may be having a stroke, or if you believe you are witnessing stroke symptoms in a loved one, follow these emergency safety steps:

  • Call 911 and allow emergency responders to assess the situation and provide appropriate treatment
  • Note when you first began to see symptoms and provide the information to emergency responders
    • Assessing the time symptoms first presented is critical because a clot-busting medication called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), if given to a patient within four-and-a-half hours of the start of symptoms, can help to reverse stroke symptoms
  • Perform CPR if the patient is unconscious, not breathing, or does not have a pulse

Final Words of Wellness

Stroke is the number five cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States. With such a high prevalence of stroke cases in our country, everyone should understand the risk factors that can increase one’s chances of experiencing a stroke and the symptoms that must be acted upon quickly to prevent disability or death. During Stroke Awareness Month, we are committed to increasing the dialogue around stroke, supporting sufferers of the condition, and educating our communities so that strokes claim fewer victims—fewer fathers, mothers, friends, and loved ones.