Does the thought of having your blood taken make you feel sick? Would you put off a visit to the emergency room if you thought you may need a blood test? Well, you’re not alone, as millions of people suffer from a fear of needles (trypanophobia) or blood (hemophobia). Here are five things you can try to overcome your fear:
Separate your phobias:
When thinking about taking a blood test are you afraid of seeing your own blood, the needle used to draw it, or a combination of the two? Being able to identify what it is you fear can help you to create an action plan to overcome it. For example, if you fear the sight of blood, then you could ask the nurse to erect a screen between you whilst you have your blood taken. Or, if you fear the needle itself, then your phlebotomist may be able to use a smaller needle or draw blood from a part of your body where you feel less fearful.
Many people have found themselves able to overcome or at least lessen their phobia by facing them head-on and learning more about them. This enables them to confront their fears rationally and scientifically rather than letting their brains blow them out of proportion. Do some research on phlebotomy (the scientific name for drawing blood) and even consider getting some phlebotomy training to help you understand what is going on when you have your blood taken. By doing this, you will also be exposing yourself to images and descriptions of your phobia which can help to desensitize you to their exposure.
Communicate your fears:
Don’t suffer through your phobia in silence, instead, communicate it to your phlebotomist so that you can work through it together. Because the fear of blood tests is a common occurrence, the chances are that your phlebotomist has some tricks up their sleeve to help make the process less stressful. Tell your phlebotomist of your fear in advance of your session so that they can allow a little more time for your visit and not rush you.
Believe it or not, our brains struggle to process too many things at once which makes distraction one of the best ways to get through a blood test that you are fearful of. Try bringing a friend or relative into the room and have them start an engrossing conversation with you. You may also want to try tapping or touching another part of your body whilst the blood test is conducted to distract you from the sensation of your blood being drawn.
Seek phobia counseling:
If your phobia is very severe, then you may wish to seek phobia counseling to help you deal with the anxiety that your phobia will make you feel. During phobia counseling, your counselor may choose to offer you cognitive behavioral therapy, group counseling sessions, self-care treatments, or a combination of all three. These sessions aren’t designed to cure your phobia but can help you to approach and manage it in a rational way.
We all have thing that we fear and, if blood and needles are some of yours, use the tips above during your next visit to the doctor.
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