Hemophobia. Are you afraid of blood?
Does the sight of blood makes you anxious? Are you avoiding your doctor’s appointments because you are afraid of your blood being drawn out of your body? Does watching bloody scenes in the movies makes sick? If yes, you might want to check with your doctor for hemophobia.
Hemophobia is the irrational and constant fear of blood. A person suffering from hemophobia cannot tolerate to see the sight of blood, theirs or others, and might end up being nauseous or might even faint. This happens because seeing the sight of blood triggers anxiety in them and the body’s fight or flight alarm gets activated. It may also involve unrealistic thoughts around the idea of seeing or thinking about blood. Common signs in people include avoiding medical procedures, being reluctant to watch action movies to avoid seeing blood, feeling sick thinking about blood sight.
Symptomatology of hemophobia:
Even though the signs of different phobias are different from each other, the symptoms experienced remain the same. A person may experience-
- Heaviness in the chest and tightness of muscles
- Breathing problem
- Feeling of constant and unreasonable fear
- Feeling of losing control over self
- Experiencing cold or hot flashes
- Incessant sweating
- Sensations of trembling
In children, one must look out for
- Crying at the sight of blood or medical procedures
- Unnecessary tantrums
- Hiding to avoid situations
Risk factors in hemophobia
There is no definite cause behind hemophobia. Though some research suggest amygdala dysfunction as a potential cause. Hemophobia usually emerges first during childhood.
Genetic factors: Some people are genetically predisposed to hemophobia or some other anxiety-related disorder. Parents having a history of hemophobia or other anxiety-related disorder can also be a contributing factor.
Trauma: Being exposed to traumatic experiences which involve bloodshed or blood injury. Childhood accidents or witnessing an accident can increase risk factor.
Temperamental factors: Risk may be increased if a person is more sensitive than normal.
Environmental factors: It can include overprotective parenting where the child is too much dependent on the caregiver.
Hemophobia may occur in co-morbidity with panic disorders, animal phobias and other anxiety-related disorder.
How to get a diagnosis?
If you feel that you are experiencing similar signs and symptoms, you should consider getting yourself diagnosed for the same. You can visit a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist. Talk to them about your concerns, tell them about your symptoms. They can assess you and make a diagnosis based on your signs and symptoms.
You need not be afraid of the procedure; it simply includes talking about your symptoms and does not involve any pathological testing or blood sight.
Write down any thoughts or symptoms you have had and queries or concerns you would like to clear at the time of your appointment with the professional.
Treatment for hemophobia
The treatment plan for hemophobia includes psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy.
It includes guided exposure to the fear or anxiety source at present (here, fear of blood). The therapist will engage you in visualization exercises and help you deal with the fear gradually. It is very effective in treating various anxiety-related disorder.
In cognitive therapy, the therapist will help you identify any triggering thought or feeling associated with the root cause of anxiety. He/she will help you replace the irrational thoughts with rational thoughts.
Replacing fear originating thoughts during a medical procedure involving blood test with more realistic thoughts.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Muscle relaxation techniques involve guided deep breathing exercises with a script which focuses on relaxing all the muscles of the body.
It helps in decreasing fainting symptom of hemophobia. Here, the muscles of the torso, arms, and legs are tensed for a time interval, till the face starts flushing while you are exposed to blood.
It includes medications though medications are not required necessarily in all the cases. Consult your psychiatrist for the same. DO NOT take medication without prescription.
Hemophobia can cause a lot of problems if untreated. People suffering from hemophobia may become reluctant to take medical assistance. They may try to avoid pathological tests involving blood tests to escape anxiety. They may delay treatment and surgeries which can lead to life threatening situation.
Don’t worry. Hemophobia is curable like any other anxiety disorder, when given the right treatment.