What Is Hemophobia (Fear of Blood)?

Hemophobia (Fear of Blood)
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Can the sight of blood make you feel nervous or faint? Do horror movies and Halloween events that feature fake blood raise a phobic reaction from you? Perhaps the mere idea of going through such blood-related medical procedures makes you feel sick to the stomach.

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Hemophobia is the term for the excessive fear of blood. Hemophobia appears in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses comes under the category of ‘specific phobia’ with the Blood Injection Injury phobia specifier (DSM-5).

However, certain individuals may get over this irrational fear and feel uncomfortable with blood from time to time.

Blood phobics will initially react like other phobics by seeing blood seep from a wound, spill into a syringe or spatter on the ground, i.e. their heart rate and blood pressure will rise as the body activates the flight response.

But then something else is going to happen: they experience sudden drop their heart rate and blood pressure, causing dizziness, sweating, vision in the tunnel, nausea, fainting, or a combination of these symptoms.

A doctor or a therapist can teach you the applied tension technique when the vasovagal reaction occurs.

What are the symptoms?

Related physical and emotional symptoms are prevalent in phobias of all forms. With this phobia, seeing blood in real life or on television can cause symptoms.

After thinking about blood or some medical procedures, including a blood test, some people can experience symptoms.

Some common effects of hemophobia may include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Tightness or pain in the chest
  • Shaking or trembling
  • A decrease in blood pressure
  • Lightheadedness
  • Feeling nauseated around blood or injury
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety disorder
  • The intense desire to leave dangerous situations where blood is involved
  • Detachment from self or feeling “unreal.”
  • Feeling like you do not have control
  • Feeling like you might pass out or die
  • feeling powerless over your fear

Hemophobia is different because it also triggers what’s called a vasovagal response. A vasovagal response means you might experience a drop in blood pressure and heart rate in response to a trigger, such as the sight of blood, watching videos of blood. When this happens, you might feel r faint or dizzy.

According to a 2014 survey about 80 per cent of people with BII phobia experience a vasovagal response. This reaction isn’t common with other specific phobias such as fear of snakes.

In children

Does the Sight of Blood Make You or your child Anxious? It Could Be Hemophobia. Here are symptoms to recognise this blood phobia in children.

Does your child have a natural aversion to seeing blood? Children with this phobia might:

  • Throw tantrums
  • Suddenly become clingy
  • Start crying
  • Hide
  • Refuse to leave their parent or caregiver’s side when they see blood or situations where blood could be present

What are the risk factors?

Researchers estimate that between 3 and 4 per cent of the population experiences BII phobia. Specific phobias often first occur in childhood, around the ages of 10 and 13.

Hemophobia can also arise in combination with other psychoneurotic disorders, such as fear of needles, agoraphobia, fear of death, animal phobias, social phobia and panic disorder.

Other risk factors include:

  • Genetics. Some people are likely to develop blood aversion than others. This can be hereditary, or you may be particularly sensitive or emotional by nature.
  • Anxious parent or caregiver. One can learn to fear a thing after seeing a fear patter. For example, when a child sees their mother is fearful of blood, they may become a blood phobic too.
  • Overprotective parent or caregiver. Some people may develop an anxiety disorder because of a sedentary lifestyle. This phobia can result from being in an environment where one is overly reliant on an overprotective parent.
  • Trauma. A traumatic or emotionally stressful event can cause a phobia. With blood, this can be related to hospital stays or serious injuries involving blood.

What causes hemophobia?

Researchers have not determined the exact causes of blood phobia.

While Sheva Rajaee, LMFT, director of the Center for Anxiety and OCD said that phobias could appear in response to an event that happened in an environment, she said that “unlike other psychological conditions, many phobias and anxiety-related disorders do not have a basis in trauma and do not need to have a rational or familial basis in order to manifest.” other researches have indicated that individuals can be genetically inclined to develop the condition.

Researchers have also put forward the theory that hemophobia has evolved as an evolutionary response to being hurt.

According to this hypothesis, by catching sight of their own blood and fainting, ancient humans injured by predators may have escaped a grisly fate. Species of predators appear to move over prey which abruptly stops moving.

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While phobias most times begin in childhood, phobias in young kids usually revolve around things like fear of the dark, strangers, loud noises, or monsters. As children get older, between the ages of 7 and 16, fears are more likely to focus on physical injury or health.

This could include homophobia. The average age of onset for hemophobia is 9.3 years for males and 7.5 years for females.

How is hemophobia diagnosed?

Make an appointment with your doctor if you believe that you might have blood phobia. Diagnosis should not require medical devices or needles.

Alternatively, you’ll just speak to the doctor about your symptoms and how long you’ve had them. To help your doctor make a decision, you can also have your personal health and family health history.

As it is officially recognised in the DSM-5 within the BII group of phobias, your doctor may use the manual criteria to make a formal diagnosis.

What are the treatment options?

Treatment is not always sufficient for specific phobias, especially if the items feared are not part of daily life. If a person is afraid of snakes, for instance, it is unlikely that they will encounter snakes often enough to require extensive care.

On the other hand, blood phobia can cause you to miss appointments, medications, or other procedures with your doctor. So, recovery can be vital to your general well-being and fitness.

Also, you may want to seek care if:

  • Panic attacks, or serious or crippling anxiety, arise from your fear of blood.
  • Anything you consider as irrational is your anxiety.
  • For six months or longer, you have encountered these emotions.

Treatment for hemophobia can include the following:

Exposure therapy

In an ongoing basis, a therapist will direct your exposure to your problems. You can participate in visualisation exercises or deal with your head-on fear of blood. Some exposure therapy plans blend both methods.

They can be remarkably successful, functioning in as little as one session.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy

A therapist may be able to help you recognise feelings of blood phobia. The aim of behavioural is to substitute fear with more “realistic” thoughts about what might possibly happen during blood-related tests or injuries.

Relaxation techniques

Anything from deep breathing to yoga to exercise will help to treat phobias. It will help you diffuse tension and alleviate physical symptoms by engaging in relaxation strategies.

Applied tension

The fainting effects of this phobia can help with a method of therapy called applied tension. For timed intervals, the idea is to tense muscles in the arms, torso, and legs until your face feels flushed when you are exposed to the stimulus, which would be blood in this case.

Participants who attempted this approach were able to view a half-hour video of surgery without fainting in one older study.

Medication

Medication may be appropriate in serious cases. It is not always, however, a good treatment for serious phobias. There is a need for further research, but it is a choice to speak with your doctor.

The takeaway

Talk to your doctor about your fear of blood, especially if your life is beginning to take over or if you miss regular health exams. Sooner rather than later, getting help can make a recovery easier in the long run.

Not only that but confronting your own fears can also help prevent the development of hemophobia in your kids. While phobia is definitely a genetic aspect, some fear is learned from others’ actions. You will be on the way to recovery with the proper treatment.

References;

  • Hemophobia: How to Get Over Your Fear of Blood; Getoverphobia
  • What Is Hemophobia?: Healthline
  • Does the Sight of Blood Make You Anxious? It Could Be Hemophobia: Themighty, Yahoo
Hemophobia (Fear of Blood)
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Jennifer Aigbini
I am a language enthusiast, studying Linguistics at the University of Benin, in Nigeria.
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