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.