Tips to Overcome Needle Phobia
I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroidits in the Fall of 2013. My hair was falling out in clumps. My hands and feet were cold. I also felt tired and lethargic all day long. For a few months I ignored the issue thinking it would cure itself. Finally, however, I was forced to visit the registered endocrinologist who prescribed a number of routine blood tests.
Now for everyone who is unaware, I have a chronic needle phobia. The poking and drawing of blood are the two things that scare me the most. I have to admit that the reason I put off the doctor’s appointment for so long was because I was so fearful of having blood work.
Tips to Overcome Needle Phobia
Needless to say, this fear of getting poked would not deter my mother from making me take the test. And I have to agree, my health seemed more important than the fear at that time. This does not mean that I was miraculously cured of my phobia. I am still pretty afraid of needles. However, by following these helpful tips I was able to keep my phobia in check enough for me to get through the test.
Promising Myself a Treat:
One of the first things I did was to promise myself a treat after the blood work. This might not seem like a healthy option for many, especially those with diabetes or other issues. However, at the time it was something to look forward to. The trick helped me ignore the fact that there was a needle going into my arm. It alos, for the most part, worked wonders to keep my mood stable.
Tell Yourself That it Will Not Last for Long:
Another thing that I was constantly telling myself is that the test would be over in a matter of seconds. The needle pricks the skin and you are done in less than 5 seconds. Looking at this as a temporary thing also made me feel like I was going to come out of it no matter what happened. Treating your phobia as something lesser than yourself can, in my opinion, be a great way to reduce fear.
Take a Friend With You:
In my case I called my best friend and my mom to make the trip to the clinic with me. Before and during the process they made sure to distract me from the thought of the needle prick. We shared stories, rehashed jokes and made weekend plans. All of this helped me remove my focus from what was happening and helped me take the test without much pain.
Look Away From the Needle:
This is an important practice that I have developed through the years. By looking away from the needle I ensure that I am not constantly thinking of how the needle pricks the skin. From a medical point of view, this is crucial because fear elevates your heart rate and anxiety increases the perception of pain. To reduce the sense of discomfort, one simple thing to do is making sure that you do not stare at the needle at all.
While for many the needle phobia is a small thing, for me it is a medical problem. The above tips are helpful for many people and children for whom the needle though scary is not extremely so. However, in my case this phobia can sometimes increase to levels of hypertension. My physician prescribed an anti-anxiety medication to be taken before the blood work.
I also have changed my diet to try and manage my generalized anxiety. I avoid food and drinks, such as coffee and alcohol, before tests that may trigger my phobia.
It is important that you bring up the issue with the doctor instead of self-prescribing because that might lead to dangerous complications. The medicines might make you drowsy which is why it is important that you take a member of the family along with you to the clinic.
For some people, the use of other medications such as beta blockers might help. While this is not something I personally use, the effect of beta blockers is that it reduces stress and decreases fear. Also, they have the added benefit of not producing feelings of drowsiness. This is very effective for those who are prone to fainting at the sight of the needle.
While we all suffer from varying degrees of fear with regard to the things around us, the medical repercussions of needle phobia are more significant. If it is a problem for you, as it is for me, it might be worthwhile to fix an appointment with the nearest registered medical officer. Not only will he/she prescribe medication to treat the problem but might also provide help with anxiety that can lead to you living a fear-less lifestyle.