If You Fear Injections, You Might Have Trypanophobia


Fear of needles seem to be innate in childhood but as we age, conquering most of our fears particularly in needles are usually settled and eventually subside. However, the blood tests and injections are methods to obtain hematologic data, vaccinations and medication administrations respectively. The only way to properly execute it in a sterile and accurate way is through the use of needles. 

Causes and Symptoms of Trypanophobia

Fear of needles, whether by blood drawn, injection shot, or any exposure getting involved with a needle is called Trypanophobia. It is sometimes called Belonephobia and is also linked with fear of doctors (iatrophobia) and fear of dentists (dentophobia or odontophobia), that causes overwhelming anxiety to a person affected. Based on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-V), it has been classified under the diagnosis of Other Specified Phobia.

There are still inadequate literature reviews as to what causes trypanophobia but some theories associated in its progression include instabilities in brain chemistry, influenced behavior from family and relatives, undesirable life experiences and past traumas, and a sensitive or inhibitive temperament.  Various outlooks and experiences of needles also play a role in its development such as memories of painful injections triggered by the mere sight of needles, hypochondria or excessive worries on getting a disease, severe dizziness as a result of vasovagal response when pricked by a needle, and a low pain tolerance that causes sensitivity to pain. Some people were not able to overcome and still have their crippling fear of needles even when they get older. In an analytical study with a sample of 1,024 children and 883 adults, 63% of children and 24% of adults conveyed their fear of needles. It was also reported that 8% of the children and 7% of the parents were not willing to be vaccinated because of their distress. If these numbers continue to rise, public health will be compromised.

Physiological symptoms of Trypanophobia cover hypertension or a sudden increase in high blood pressure, and tachycardia or an increased heart rate. Other manifestations include tachypnea or rapid breathing, nausea, anxiety and nervousness, sweating, and trembling. A person’s hesitancy to a certain procedure or a medical treatment involving the use of needles are apparently observed. In worst case scenarios, unremitting anxiety can lead to a panic attack.

Things to Know About Its Diagnosis

Mental health specialists will conduct a series of physical examinations and assessments to rule out any other diseases that might be attributable to the symptoms. A health interview comprises of any past and present health history including the duration, severity and causative nature of illness indications. Significantly, there are certain measures with regards to the manifestation of symptoms such as being uncooperative and extreme avoidance behaviors, responding immediately when needles are seen, utmost distress and not being able to function normally most especially in response to health decisions.

How to Treat Trypanophobia

Addressing the principal cause of trypanophobia varies individually.  In most cases, psychotherapy is the primary recommendation of treatment. Different approaches to psychotherapy are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy and medications.

Cognitive behavioral therapy specifies initial assessment of one’s fear of needles in therapy sessions and discovering appropriate coping techniques to it with a help of a therapist. Mastery of emotions over thoughts and feelings, and a boosted confidence to face the object of fear will be achieved.

Exposure therapy is in a way related to CBT but concentrates on shifting the physical and mental response with the fear of needles. Several exposures to needles and the thoughts accompanied by it will be intentionally activated by the therapist. For instance, an image of a needle will be initially shown. Once passed, a person will be instructed to hold the needle and practice guided imagery in experience of getting injected by a needle. All these activities are supervised by the therapist.

Medications are prescribed when stress is uncontrollable despite psychotherapies. Antianxiety and sedative medications are given for brain and body relaxation just enough to minimize the symptoms. A person suffering from trypanophobia can sign a written consent that indicates taking a medication prior to blood test or vaccination to lower stress levels.

Overcoming Trypanophobia

People suffering with Trypanophobia are advised to be accompanied by someone who can support them emotionally during the procedure. Parents or guardians are best partners for children. For adults, holding their hand by a trusted family member or a friend while giving verbal encouragements can help.

Distraction cues can be a powerful tool. Listening to a favorite music or watching a delightful short video clip can divert the attention away from the needles. Notify the health care provider who will draw blood, inject a medicine or a vaccine as early as possible and ask for any proven tricks to surmount the struggle. A medication can also be requested to numb the anticipated painful sensation from the needle.

Observation while doing the procedure is not recommended. Watching each step of the process can only heightened the anxiety level. Also, muscles might be accidentally flexed while the skin is currently pierced which might cause unnecessary bodily reactions. Practice deep breathing and relaxation techniques before and during the procedure. Final resort would be a counsellor or a mental health specialist to give essential information and conduct necessary treatments.


The avoidance, anxiety and distress levels associated with Trypanophobia may restrict with one’s regular functioning mostly with health related matters. Vaccinations against communicable diseases like COVID-19 are still ongoing. Overcoming Trypanophobia is a vital concern not only for one’s personal benefit but also for the community and the nation as a whole. If you want to discuss your health concerns about Trypanophobia, you may call MyPocketDoctor. The MyPocketDoctor has been actively delivering both health information and telemedicine services. You can certainly enjoy these conveniences right at your fingertips by downloading the MyPocketDoctor APP and talking to our team of doctors about your health concerns. MyPocketDoctor can be contacted through its Facebook page and/or agent chat on the website www.MyPocketDoctor.com. You may check the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) through this website.