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Understanding Hemophobia: Blood-Injury Phobia

Understanding Hemophobia: Blood-Injury Phobia

Can’t stand the sight of blood? Here’s what you need to know about treatment for blood-injury phobia.

If you have blood-injury phobia, the sight of blood makes you faint or feel nauseous, then you’re in the right place. You need to know about treatment for blood-injury phobia and what options are available so that you can decide which treatment or combination of treatments will be most effective in reducing or eliminating your fear of blood and injury. Blood-injury phobia (medically known as haemophobia) affects nearly 12% of the population worldwide and accounts for about 7 million emergency room visits per year in the United States alone, according to the National Blood Services Organization.

The signs and symptoms

Many people who suffer from blood injury phobia experience intense fear, anxiety, and panic when they see or are exposed to any kind of blood or injury. The most common symptoms include rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, nausea, fainting (sometimes called syncope), dizziness and chills. It is not uncommon for some individuals to pass out at the site of blood or injury. If a person suffers from this type of reaction, he may also feel strong emotional reactions such as sadness, anger, frustration, embarrassment or shame. People with this phobia may avoid work in medical professions, have trouble functioning on a day-to-day basis because of their fear and anxiety, or use avoidance behaviors such as wearing long sleeves even in hot weather to cover their skin.

Treatments available

Many people with a fear of blood and injury will benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, or exposure therapy, which gradually exposes them to things they find frightening. Medication is sometimes used in conjunction with other treatments, but there are no medications specifically approved by the FDA for treating this type of fear. Antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be prescribed to help manage anxiety symptoms related to the phobia. It’s important to note that antidepressants can take several weeks before their effects start being felt, so it may not be an effective option if someone is experiencing extreme distress due to their condition. The tricyclic antidepressant clomipramine may also be helpful in managing blood-injury phobias as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). If you or a loved one are suffering from blood injury phobia, you will need to see an expert in exposure therapy who is familiar with the use of applied pressure techniques.