If the thought of the COVID-19 vaccine has got you feeling squeamish, anxious or simply terrified, you’re not alone. Needle phobia is a very common phobia, and many people are now realising that they might suffer from it.
Unless you travel regularly, it’s likely been a long time since you had to have any injections recently. So the thought of two in a single year might be sending you over the edge.
The first thing to note is that you’re not alone here. Plenty of people suffer from some form of needle phobia and in all degrees of severity. Nurses and healthcare professionals are also trained to spot the signs of needle phobia to put you at ease.
So if you’re putting off booking your COVID-19 vaccination appointment due to a needle phobia, don’t worry. With a bit of planning, you should be able to get your vaccination without incident.
What is the name for needle phobia?
The medical name for the fear of needles is trypanophobia. It is a very common phobia, with most people reporting some level of discomfort around needles.
Taking control of your needle phobia is a good idea so that you can get your COVID-19 vaccine and your annual flu vaccine. It’s also helpful as any unexpected trips to the doctor or hospital will be less stressful if you have identified and taken control of your needle phobia.
What are the symptoms of needle phobia?
The following are all common symptoms of a needle phobia. It’s important to remember that a phobia starts in your mind, but it can manifest as physical symptoms. This is why you should always take your phobia seriously. You might experience any of the following symptoms:
- Panic attacks
- High blood pressure
- Racing heart rate
- Heightened emotions
What causes fear of needles?
People have a fear of needles for many different reasons. You might be afraid of pain and be worried that the needle will hurt. Some people know that the needle won’t hurt, but they have a phobia of anything puncturing their skin.
Think about past experiences you have had with needles. Perhaps you fainted after a previous injection and are holding onto the bad memories associated with this incident.
Those with small veins may find that having their blood taken is a long process and requires more attempts. This can leave you feeling uneasy around all needles.
Some people are afraid of medical settings. Perhaps you lost a loved one in the hospital and now you feel uneasy when you are in a medical setting, or around medical professionals.
For others, it is the fear of judgement from medical professionals. If you have had a bad experience with someone demonstrating poor patient care, this might make you fearful of medical professionals.
If you suffer from generalised anxiety, this can also present as a needle phobia.
How do you overcome needle phobia?
The best thing to do to overcome your needle phobia is to not avoid it. Avoiding injections might help you control your anxiety, but there may come a time when you need to be able to face needles with confidence.
Start by speaking to your GP about your phobia. They may be able to administer your vaccination or refer you to a vaccination centre where the staff are trained to work with nervous patients.
If it helps to see the needle first, they can show you how small it is. But if you would rather not look, they can also help keep your attention on something else and conceal the needle.
Ask a supportive friend or family member to attend the appointment with you. Make sure you choose someone who understands your phobia. If they are also afraid, they might amplify your phobia. Likewise, if they are telling you to “stop being silly” or “it’s just a needle” this is unlikely to be helpful. You need someone there who will support you without judgement.
And finally, give yourself plenty of time before and after your vaccination appointment. Feeling rushed will only increase your anxiety, so make sure you don’t plan anything for immediately after your appointment.