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Hemophobia (Fear of Blood) : Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Last Updated: Dec 26, 2020

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What is Hemophobia?

Blood is an essential part of human body composition. We all have a few ounces in our body flowing through our veins. Although we all understand the fact and we are all comfortable with it.

There are a few people for whom the sight of the blood can be scary. Even a drop of blood can make them anxious and sometimes they even faint. Not only that, but the routine check-ups involving blood can also be like a battle for them.

The term for the irrational fear of blood is hemophobia. It is also commonly known as blood phobia. Hemophobia is one of the extreme phobias out there.

This could mean seeing or being in contact with any sort of blood whether it be the phobic own or somebody else's can make them faint or anxious. The anxiety could also be triggered with a sight of an animal’s blood as well.

Symptoms of Hemophobia

When it comes to phobias they all share almost the same type of physical and emotional response upon the trigger. Now triggers can vary from phobia to phobia though.

In the cases of hemophobia, seeing blood on tv, in real life, in cartoons or even medical procedures involving blood can be a trigger. Thinking about blood or blood-related procedures also makes them uncomfortable.

Physical symptoms triggered by this phobia may include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Tightness or pain in the chest
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Lightheadedness
  • Feeling nauseated around blood or injury
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Sweating

Mental symptoms includes:

  • Extreme anxiety or panic
  • Feeling that you’ve lost control
  • Feeling weak and scared
  • Passing out in extreme conditions
  • The overwhelming need for avoiding blood-related situations

Children with hemophobia may experience different symptoms:

  • Cry
  • Hide
  • Become clingy
  • Have tantrums
  • Refuse to leave their caregiver’s side around blood or situations where the blood could be present

Complications of Fear of Blood

The issue with some types of phobia like Hemophobia or fear of blood is that it develops in the combination with other psychoneurotic disorders. This could be an animal phobia, agoraphobia or panic disorder. Often, patients must be treated for more than one psychological issue which requires a lot of effort.

Hemophobia Causes and Effects

While there are around 3-4% of the people in this world with specific phobias. Research suggests that specific phobias often arise at a younger age only.

Possible causes of hemophobia can be:

  • Genetics: A few people are more likely to develop phobias than others. There might be a hereditary connection, or you might be especially delicate or passionate naturally.
  • Trauma: Traumatic or stressful events that occurred in the past can also contribute to the development of this type of phobia. In the case of homophobia, it can be a serious accident or something related to hospital procedures or extreme injuries.

How to Diagnosis Hemophobia?

If you feel like you might have hemophobia, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Diagnosis doesn’t involve any blood-related activities, there will be no needles or medical equipment.

Instead, it’ll be a long and descriptive chat with your doctor about how you feel when exposed to certain circumstances and your symptoms. You’re also advised to tell your doctor about any family history of similar phobias to help your doctor make more informed decisions regarding your situation.

Hemophobia is an officially recognised phobia, it lies in the BII category in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5). Your doctor might ask you a few more relevant questions in order to confirm your symptoms according to the criteria from the manual.

It is suggested that please tell your doctor if you’ve any special notes in your mind about your situation, no matter how insignificant it seems, don’t hesitate to mention it.

Treatment of Hemophobia

It is not always required to treat hemophobia, especially if you’re not directly related to anything that requires day to day involvement in blood or similar activities. But we suggest you have the therapy anyway, people with even normal hemophobia cases start ignoring doctors and appointments because of their phobia.

Treatment options include the following:

  1. Exposure Therapy: In this form of therapy the patient is exposed to their fears in a perfectly safe and controlled environment. Your doctor gets a better evaluation of your situation using this therapy. Exposure therapy is one of the most effective techniques for phobias such as this one.
  2. Cognitive therapy: In cognitive therapy, your doctor talks to you about your anxiety around blood. Your therapist will try to bring out the more rational thoughts they can on the surface. Especially, regarding the activities around blood, such as medical treatments and daily tests.
  3. Relaxation therapy: In this therapy, your doctor might suggest you a few exercises to relax voluntarily. This therapy helps in diffusing and easing the symptoms during a trigger.
  4. Medication: If your symptoms become too extreme during the episodes, your doctor might suggest a few medications to control the symptoms. Medications are only to control the symptoms, medication is never a solution.
  5. Applied Tension: A method for the treatment of phobias called applied tension may help with the blacking out impacts of Hemophobia. The idea is to tense your muscles in the arms, torso, and legs for timed intervals until your face feels flushed when you're exposed to the trigger, which for this situation would be blood.

Another study suggests that members who attempted this procedure were able to watch a half-hour video of a medical procedure without swooning.

How to Use Applied Tension Technique to Deal with Hemophobia?

If you’re still getting used to using the applied tension technique, you may still faint when placed into a condition that involves a hemophobia trigger, like getting your blood drawn. If you do faint, you can recover faster, if you can lie down and elevate your feet.

It is very important to remember that tensing your arm while getting an injection can make it more painful. Instead, just relax the arm that is receiving the injection and focus on tension the other body parts to avoid fainting. It is difficult at first, but it’s essential that you practice doing this before getting an injection.

You can still use applied tension on the arm that is getting the injection both and after the procedure, however, you need to remember to release the tension in that arm while the needle is administered. If during the injection, you notice yourself developing a headache while using the applied tension techniques. Just try to reduce the amount of strain you are putting on your muscles or the time you spend on tensing them.

Use the technique when you recognize a fainting spell about to come on. One may experience lightheadedness as a warning sign before your blood pressure is about too low. Harness this feeling and start your applied tension technique to prevent fainting before it’s too late.

Do not get demotivated. Applied tension may be simple but is very difficult to practice both the timings of techniques and relaxing the arm that’s receiving the injection while tensing the rest body.

How to Overcome From Hemophobia

Don’t let the fear take over your life or make you skip your routine check-ups. Not only that, facing your fears now will enable your children to face it as well. Because as mentioned earlier, it has a genetic component to this phobia. There are things that you can do to live with the fear:

  1. Try to have a familiar doctor who understands your condition
  2. Indulge in fun activities that are less dangerous for you
  3. You can start facing the fear of little-scale
  4. Do not skip the routine check-ups, the fear will be less extreme that way
  5. Do meditation daily combined with exercise
  6. Seek the help of mental health expert if its severe

Additional Information on Fear of Seeing Blood

Hemophobia can have a wide range of hybrids with different fears that can possibly include blood. For example, the phobia of injections,(Trypanophobia) phobia of hospitals,(Nosocomephobia) the phobia of doctors,(Latrophobia) the phobia of the dentist,(Dentophobia) the phobia of pain, (Algophobia) and the phobia of death (Thanatophobia).

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Written ByDrx Hina FirdousPhD (Pharmacology) Pursuing, M.Pharma (Pharmacology), B.Pharma - Certificate in Nutrition and Child CarePharmacology
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Reviewed ByDr. Bhupindera Jaswant SinghMD - Consultant PhysicianGeneral Physician
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