Does the thought of undergoing a surgical procedure make you feel anxious? Then don’t worry you are not alone in this. Many people suffer from this problem, and even there is a medical term for this known as ‘hemophobia’.
Hemophobia- fear of blood
Do you know who first discovered the blood groups? Karl Landsteiner was the genius behind the discovery!
Hemophobia, also known as hemophobia, is associated with an unexplained fear of blood. This may be due to the sight of blood which makes you feel sick. This is not only limited to the fear of blood but also takes in other blood-related things including needles, syringes, wounds and cuts etc.
Throughout my life, I’ve seen my aunt scared of blood and anaesthesia. It wasn’t that problematic until she had to go through a surgical procedure for the removal of an abdominal tumour. She went to a renowned general surgeon in Karachi for the procedure and this anxiety made it difficult for the surgeon to proceed with the surgery.
How ‘fear of blood’ appears?
Now you must be wondering how it appears in different people. Signs and symptoms of hemophilia are;
- Increased heart rate
- Trouble breathing
- Chest congestion or sudden chest pain
- Shivering or trembling
- Dizziness and fainting
- Hot and cold waves throughout the body
Other than these signs and symptoms, hemophobia can feel like anxiety or panic attack, losing control or feeling powerless
What are the risk factors for hemophobia?
While hemophobia is common among people, some people are at a greater risk of developing it. Risk factors for hemophobia include;
- Genetic- hemophobia can be in your genes and you can inherit it
- Anxious parents- if your parent get anxiety after seeing blood, you can get it too
- Trauma- any traumatic experience in past can lead to fearing blood
These symptoms can vary from person to person as well can be mild to severe. I remember once at a family gathering my aunt I previously discussed, saw me cutting my finger while cutting fruits. She had a severe panic attack and we had to take her to Bantva Anis Hospital in an emergency where she received the treatment.
How to treat hemophobia?
Here is how you can treat hemophobia;
1- Exposure therapy
Exposure therapy is the psychological treatment that is used to treat phobia among people. When people are usually afraid of anything they are more likely to avoid it. Although, it can be beneficial in the short term avoidance of situations or objects can be even worse in the long run. In exposure therapy, the physician exposes you to the objects or situations you are afraid of in a safe manner. This can help you to slowly and progressively overcome your fear.
2- Cognitive therapy
This is another most commonly used psychological therapy to treat hemophobia. In this therapy, the therapist can help you to identify your fear of blood-based on the concept of psychotherapy which assumes faulty thoughts are responsible for the trouble. Cognitive behaviour therapy is focused on changing thoughts based on current behaviour and thoughts rather than past experiences.
3- Relaxation therapy
In this therapy, various relaxation techniques are used to make you feel relaxed. Relaxation therapy involves the use of the following techniques to improve phobia induced stress levels.
4- Applied tension
Another effective way to treat hemophobia is to use applied tension. This is a method in which tension is applied to different body muscles from time to time. This muscle tension increases the blood pressure accompanied by exposure with an anxiety trigger. This increased heart rate makes you less prone to exposure and can help people to faint while facing a fearful object or situation.
Apart from all these things, certain medications can help to deal with hemophobia. However, medicines are administered for severe cases of hemophobia.
Hemophobia is not a disability but the fear of facing the blood. This fear can be associated with past traumas or can be inherited. However, there are many ways to treat this phobia including therapies as well as medications.