What Is Aichmophobia?
A phobia is defined by the American Psychological Association as “a persistent and irrational fear of a specific situation, object, or activity, which is consequently either strenuously avoided or endured with marked distress”. Phobias are classified as anxiety disorders. While a person can have a specific phobia of almost anything, from heights to flying to snakes, this type of fear usually manifests in similar ways regardless of the trigger.
What Aichmophobia Is And Is Not
The term aichmophobia is composed of the Greek words for "point" (aichmē) and fear (phobos). It applies to the fear of sharp objects, which can include needles. However, a fear of needles on its own—especially in conjunction with medical procedures—is classified as a different phobia known as trypanophobia.
Aichmophobia is also sometimes confused with sharp edge eye syndrome, or visual looming syndrome. With this condition, an individual does not fear the sharp items themselves, but experiences ocular discomfort or pain when viewing or mentally picturing sharp objects or edges.
Symptoms Of Aichmophobia
Many people with phobias will experience similar symptoms when faced with or sometimes even when thinking about the object of their fear. They’re usually aware that their fear is irrational, but can’t control it. They will typically avoid the trigger at all costs and won’t usually be able to function normally when faced with it. Physical symptoms when encountering their trigger may include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Rapid breathing
- Chills or hot flashes
- Tightness in the throat
- Dry mouth
- Tingling in the extremities
If left untreated, aichmophobia can worsen as time goes on. In serious cases, it can prevent the person from participating in activities in their daily life for fear of coming into contact with a sharp object at some point. In turn, this can lead to social isolation, problems with work, school, and relationships, and depression or other mental health conditions as a result.
What Causes Aichmophobia
The exact incidence of aichmophobia is unknown, but specific phobias are fairly common. About 7–10% of the general population is affected by some kind of phobia. The cause of this phobia is also not well understood. It could be due to a past traumatic incident involving a sharp object, such as experiencing an accident, witnessing an accident, or experiencing a painful medical procedure. Genetics may also play a role in an individual’s risk of developing any anxiety disorder, including phobias.
Treatment For Aichmophobia
People with aichmophobia can benefit from treatment because this condition has the potential to negatively impact their lives. In addition to causing them distress, it can also be stressful for their loved ones and the healthcare workers in charge of administering medical procedures, such as nurses, phlebotomists, and anesthetists. They may even avoid procedures that could improve their quality of life or even save it because of their fear. Again, this phobia can also make it difficult to leave the house, attend work or school, or socialize because of the fear of encountering a sharp object somewhere along the way.
As a result, seeking treatment can be important. The recommended course of action for someone experiencing aichmophobia or any other type of phobia is to meet with a mental health professional for evaluation. They’ll typically recommend some form of psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one methodology that’s commonly used to treat phobias. It’s based on the idea that core beliefs cause thoughts which can cause feelings and behaviors, so a cognitive behavioral therapist will help a client learn to recognize and shift unhealthy or flawed thought patterns that are causing distress. Exposure therapy, where the individual is gradually exposed to their trigger over time in a controlled, clinical setting, may also be suggested.
How To Connect With A Therapist
If you’re interested in meeting with a trained therapist to address symptoms of a phobia or another mental health condition, you have options. If you’d prefer to meet with someone in person, you can search for a provider in your local area. If you’d prefer to meet with someone from the comfort of home, or if you have trouble traveling to new environments due to phobia symptoms, you might consider virtual therapy.
With an online therapy platform like BetterHelp, you can get matched with a licensed therapist who you can meet with via phone, video call, and/or in-app messaging from anywhere you have an internet connection. Research suggests that online therapeutic interventions may be as effective for the treatment of phobias as in-person methods, so you may be able to choose the format that works best for you.
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