Coping With The Fear Of Blood
Updated December 17, 2018
Reviewer Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC
Hemophobia, or a phobia of blood, can be a problematic fear to have. You can see blood anywhere. For example, you're on the bus, and you notice a child with a bloody nose. A co-worker accidentally gets cuts while moving a file cabinet or working with heavy machinery. If you have children, they can skin their knees on the football field or the sidewalk.
Blood is a common thing to see, and it's a hard fear to face. However, the fear of blood is something many people struggle with, so if you have this fear, you're not alone.
Severe cases of hemophobia (or fear of blood) cause a person to have physical reactions that you don't see with other phobias. For example, someone who is afraid of blood may faint at the sight of it, which is known as vasovagal syncope.
Someone with hemophobia could also have trypanophobia, the fear of needles, or traumatophobia, which is the fear of physical injuries. Hemophobia, trypanophobia, and traumatophobia all fall under the umbrella of "blood-injection-injury phobias."
Causes Of Hemophobia
If someone is afraid of blood, it's probably because something traumatic happened during childhood or adolescence to cause the phobia. Traumatic events that occur during the stages of human development are more likely to cause hemophobia than being genetically predisposed to the fear. That means that the fear of blood is one that's probably not inherited or passed down through generations.
Although, homophobia can result from trauma related to seeing blood, experts believe that it is not always an event specifically involving blood that leads to hemophobia. Maybe a person had a terrifying experience involving the color red and, as a result, it translated to a fear of blood.
Bleeding can be scary because it's a sign that something is wrong with the body. When people are afraid that they're sick or have chronic hypochondriasis (the fear of becoming sick) or nosophobia, which is the fear of developing a specific disease, like cancer or diabetes that affects the entire body. When you're afraid of contracting a particular ailment, it can then lead to a fear of the very germs that can lead to sickness (mysophobia), or, in the extreme, the fear of death (thanatophobia).
Hemophobia and mysophobia can be even more closely linked, as the person may be afraid of catching germs specifically from another individual's blood.
As stated earlier, the sight of needles can trigger someone's hemophobia because they're afraid of watching the blood go into the syringe. In addition to needles, there are several other "triggers" that can exacerbate a person's hemophobia.
For instance, Halloween decorations depicting blood, though fake, can still trigger someone's homophobia. Images on television, such as those found in gory horror films or television shows involving murder as a topic or storyline, can affect someone's fear of blood.
Symptoms Of Hemophobia
When a person experiences hemophobia, they tremble at the sight of blood, usually after a sudden drop in blood pressure, and they feel faint and turn pale.
Someone who is afraid of the sight of blood may also experience these symptoms upon seeing the blood of an animal. It doesn't necessarily have to be human blood that evokes a strong reaction.
A person who has hemophobia may prefer to live a sedentary lifestyle. They're relatively inactive life because they're probably scared that exercise or sports could injure them, which might lead to bleeding. If they bleed, it could land them in the doctor's office or hospital, where there is more blood around. It's sad to think about because the person might otherwise be able to enjoy outdoor activities, but fear limits them.
Another unfortunate side effect of hemophobia is depression, which goes hand-in-hand with a sedentary lifestyle. The individual may want to be active, go running or play a sport, but because of hemophobia, the person is scared of injury and seeing blood. Not being able to get out there and do the things you want to, it could lead to depression.
If you struggle with hemophobia and you're not sure what to do, consider reaching out to one of our BetterHelp counselors for assistance.
One treatment for hemophobia is to increase an individual's blood pressure. By increasing it, this will decrease the chance that their blood pressure will drop, and that they'll faint.
The applied tension method works well on homophobia rather than relaxation techniques, which is effective on those suffering from other phobias. Hemophobia is different from other since the top priority is to prevent the person from fainting. Squeezing a person's muscle groups into knots is one way to raise their blood pressure. It works well in situations where a person is at risk of fainting, such as receiving an injection or blood draw at the doctor's office. Imagine practicing relaxation techniques for a phobia that already leads to fainting. It doesn't make sense to lower your blood pressure when you feel faint. It's no wonder experts in the field came up with a different method for coping with a strong physical reaction to a phobia.
Tips For A Successful Application Of The Applied Tension Technique
If you're still getting used to using the applied tension technique, you may still faint at first when placed into a situation involving 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's important to remember that tensing your arm while receiving an injection can make the injection more painful. Instead, relax the arm that is receiving the injection, and focus on tensing the other parts of your body to avoid fainting. It may be difficult to master at first, but it's essential that you practice doing this before going getting an injection.
You can still use applied tension on the arm that is getting the injection both before 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 technique, try to reduce the amount of strain you're putting on your muscles or the time your spend tensing them.
Use the applied tension technique when you recognize a fainting spell about to come on. You may experience lightheadedness as a warning sign before your blood pressure is about to drop. Harness this feeling and start your applied tension techniques to prevent fainting before it's too late.
Do not get discouraged. Applied tension may sound simple, but it's crucial to practice both the timing of the technique and relaxing the arm that's receiving the injection while simultaneously tensing the rest of your body. It's a tricky skill to master but keep working at it, and you'll get better and better. Sources: