The phobia of blood extractions is a problem that affects a large number of people, even negatively interfering in the lives of those who suffer from it. This is because those who suffer from this phobia avoid undergoing certain medical procedures, even when their health depends on it.
Therefore, in this post we will talk about phobias related to blood extractions. We will explain what they are, what their symptoms are, what implications they have and what we can do to deal with them.
What is the phobia of blood draws?
The phobia of blood draws is something that happens to many people and that can make having a blood test tedious and generate a lot of anxiety. As its name indicates, Blood draw phobia is the intense fear of having to have a blood draw.
Phobias, as we already discussed at the time, are a type of anxiety disorder where exposure, in this case, having to draw blood, produces extreme anxiety that can become a panic attack.
The DSM-5 (APA, 2013), the main diagnostic manual for mental disorders, includes this phobia within the “specific phobias” and establishes that in order to be diagnosed, it must interfere with the daily life of the person who suffers from it.
In the case of blood phobia, This intense fear can be due, in turn, to different phobias: iatrophobia, hematophobia and trypanophobia.. We will explain them in the next sections.
Iatrophobia: fear of the doctor
Iatrophobia is defined as “intense fear that people have of medical appointments, hospital settings and health professionals in general”. This is something that, as we will see later, can delay seeking medical attention when you have symptoms of a disease.
Hematophobia: fear of blood
Some time ago, we dedicated a section to talk extensively about hematophobia, also known as blood phobia. Broadly speaking, we could say that It is an irrational fear that occurs when the person has to expose themselves to situations related to bloodsuch as a blood draw or an injury.
Trypanophobia: fear of needles
Finally, trypanophobia is the intense fear of needles or injections. This factor could also be related to the fear of blood draws, since the person could avoid having to draw blood simply because they are not exposed to a needle.
Consequences of iatrophobia, hematophobia and trypanophobia
The consequences of this type of phobias can be many and very serious. For example, in the case of iatrophobia, some of the most serious are the following:
- Medical attention is avoided. In other words, people, even if they are sick, refuse to go to the doctor because of the fear that it causes them.
- He behavior of these people in medical consultations it is different. When a person has iatrophobia, they do not usually ask the doctor or seek information about what is happening to them. This means that treatments or procedures are not always followed properly.
- White coat phenomenon or syndrome.
In addition to the above, we could also say that they present anticipatory anxiety when they know they are going to have to go to a medical consultation. This means that the days leading up to this appointment are lived with great anxiety.
In the case of hematophobia, the consequences are similar to the previous ones. The person has a tendency to avoid all situations that are related to blood, such as having an analysis done. Likewise, in the case of presenting blood spontaneously (from a wound, etc.) they experience it as something overflowing that can even become a panic attack.
It is important to highlight that, the avoiding situations involving medical settings, blood, or injections could put the person’s life at risk.
What is the treatment for this type of phobias?
Therapy for phobias and fears, as we saw a long time ago, is usually based on the following techniques:
- Relaxation and breathing techniques. With the aim of reducing the physical activation that produces anxiety.
- cognitive restructuring. In order to undo the automatic catastrophic thoughts related, in this case, to blood extractions. Through this technique we seek to find healthier and less negative alternative thoughts.
- gradual exposure. The exhibition focuses on the progressive and gradual approach (in a controlled manner) of the person to blood extractions.
Other types of techniques can also be used, such as: applied stress or systematic desensitization. The choice of techniques should be made after analyzing the case of each specific person. By this I mean that the techniques should always be adapted to the needs of each person.
The phobia of blood extractions can be composed of different phobias: iatrophobia, hematophobia or trypanophobia. We could define it as: intense and irrational fear of having to draw blood. It is important to keep in mind that these phobias could endanger the lives of the people who suffer from it. This is so, because the people affected have a tendency to avoid the feared situations, which can lead to their being left without the medical attention they need.
Due to the above, we could say that It is vitally important to investigate these phobias (little research exists on them) and create intervention protocols with the objective of minimize negative consequences that they may have.
- American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (5th ed.). Washington, DC.
- Alvarez-Sarmiento, J. (2021). Needle-free local dental anesthesia: An integrative review of the literature. Active Dentistry Scientific Magazine, 6(1), 37-50.
- Hollander, MA, & Greene, MG (2019). A conceptual framework for understanding iatrophobia. Patient education and counseling, 102(11), 2091-2096.
- Ramos, G., Nascimento, K., de Asis, L., & Ferreira, JK (2020). Hospital do Ursinho de Brasília: Uma Missão Social. Participação-UnB Magazine, 111-119.