Coping With The Fear Of Blood

Updated February 17, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Do You Need Help Facing Your Fears?

There is the possibility of seeing blood every day. Maybe you get on the bus and notice someone with a bloody nose or see a co-worker get a cut while moving a file cabinet or working with heavy machinery. If you have children of your own, they may skin their knees on the football field or the sidewalk.

Hemophobia, or the fear of blood, can be a challenging fear to face. However, this fear is something many people struggle with. If you’re one of them, it might help to know you’re not alone.

Severe cases of hemophobia can cause physical reactions not seen with other phobias. For example, someone afraid of blood may faint at the sight of it, which is known as vasovagal syncope.

In addition, individuals with hemophobia are more likely to have trypanophobia, or 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

The cause of hemophobia is not completely understood, but people with a family history of anxiety or phobia are likely to develop phobias like hemophobia. Traumatic or stressful events can also trigger phobias. For example, someone with hemophobia may have witnessed or experienced a bad injury or painful injection. 

Hemophobia Triggers

Bleeding can be scary because it's a sign that something is wrong with the body. When people are afraid they're sick or have chronic hypochondriasis (the fear of becoming sick) or nosophobia (the fear of developing a specific disease, like cancer or diabetes), this can affect the entire body. When you're afraid of contracting a particular ailment, that fear can lead to a fear of germs (mysophobia) or, in the extreme, the fear of death (thanatophobia).

The sight of needles can trigger someone's hemophobia because they're afraid of watching the blood go into the syringe. Several other "triggers" can exacerbate a person's hemophobia, like Halloween decorations depicting blood or gory images on television or in movies.

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 afraid of blood may also experience these symptoms when seeing the blood of an animal. It doesn't have to be human blood to evoke a strong reaction.

Do You Need Help Facing Your Fears?

A person who has hemophobia may prefer to live a sedentary lifestyle. They may avoid activities such as exercise or sports for fear of injury, which might lead to bleeding. They may worry that if they bleed, it could land them in the doctor's office or a hospital, where they might see even more blood. Thus, this fear can significantly limit one’s enjoyment of life.

Treating Hemophobia

One treatment for hemophobia is to increase the person’s blood pressure to decrease the chance that their blood pressure will drop at the sight of blood, causing them to faint.

In addition, the applied tension method works well with hemophobia compared to relaxation techniques, which are effective with those experiencing other phobias. However, hemophobia is different from other phobias, as the top priority is preventing 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 when receiving an injection or getting blood drawn at a doctor's office.

Tips For A Successful Application Of The Applied Tension Technique

If you're using the applied tension technique, you may still be at risk of fainting when placed in a situation involving a hemophobia trigger, such as getting your blood drawn. If you start to feel faint, you will recover faster if you 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 receiving the injection, and focus on tensing the other parts of your body to avoid fainting. This technique may be challenging to master at first, so it helps to practice before getting an injection.

You can use applied tension on the arm 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 you 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. Learn to identify this feeling, and start your applied tension techniques to prevent fainting before it's too late.

Above all, 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 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. 

Online Therapy for Phobias

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a therapy approach that helps people change negative thoughts into positive ones, resulting in more positive emotions and healthier behaviors.

CBT with a licensed therapist is an excellent way to treat phobias, including fear of blood. But some phobias can make it challenging to attend in-person therapy, which is where online therapy comes in. With online treatment, you attend sessions from the comfort of your own home. There’s no need to sit in traffic or take time out of your busy workday to drive to your appointment; you can speak with your licensed therapist from wherever you have an internet connection. 

CBT is considered a front-line treatment for anxiety, and research shows that online CBT (iCBT) can treat anxiety disorders just as effective as in-person therapy. Not only is online CBT as effective as face-to-face therapy for anxiety disorders including phobias, but online treatment is both cost-effective and successful, with treatment effects maintained at one-year follow-up. If you want to learn more, contact BetterHelp to take the next step.

BetterHelp’s licensed therapists have provided CBT for anxiety disorders including phobias. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp therapists from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

“Kelly is quite literally the best thing that has ever happened to me. She understands me and my phobias in a way that no one else ever has. She is always there to listen when I need her and I’m so thankful for this service and opportunity to work on myself with a professional.”

“I'm very thankful I was matched with Julian, he has brought a difference to my daily life. He has helped me challenge fears I wouldn’t be able to overcome. He listens to my concerns, thoughts, and problems and helps me understand what can be done and how to deal with them in a healthier way to avoid negative feelings. Julian really cares and shows it with his work.”


Many people have hemophobia, and while it is challenging to overcome, it is possible. Treatment may focus not only on the applied tension method to ensure you don’t faint in situations where having blood drawn or an injection is unavoidable, but also on what is at the root of the phobia.

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