(972)332-8733
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.

Mindfulness as a Mediator Between Trauma Exposure and Mental Health Outcomes

Mindfulness as a Mediator Between Trauma Exposure and Mental Health Outcomes

The prevalence of traumatic events among adults in the United States range from 40-90%. The highest prevalence is seen in veterans or current individuals in the armed forces. Exposure to traumatic events, such as being in war, can lead to the development of mental health problems such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder, substance use disorders, anxiety disorders, and suicidal ideation. Gaining knowledge of potential mediators of the link between trauma exposure and mental health outcomes help enrich treatment and the development of more targeted clinical interventions.

Mindfulness is a clinical intervention that has become part of a component package for treatment of experiencing a traumatic event. Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment in a nonjudgmental way and cultivating awareness of one’s mental state; and shifting attention from ruminative thought patterns to the present moment (Kachadourian et al., 2021). This allows a person to respond with flexibility when in a situation that has previously evoked distress caused by the traumatic event(s). The individual will be more likely to engage in adaptive behaviors by increasing acceptance of trauma-related experiences and decreasing the impact of trauma related stimuli.

Interventions to help bolster mindfulness may further help alleviate the negative mental health impact that aggregate traumas on individuals, particularly for U.S. military veterans. Other mindfulness factors that should be further researched include observing (i.e., ability to notice or attend to internal and external experiences), describing (i.e., ability to label internal experiences with words), nonjudging of inner experience (i.e., taking a nonevaluative stance toward thoughts and feelings), and nonreactivity to inner experience (i.e., tendency to allow thoughts and feelings to come and go). These may help with differential associations between trauma exposure and mental health.

Reference:

Kachadourian, L. K., Harpaz-Rotem, I., Tsai, J., Southwick, S., & Pietrzak, R. H. (2021). Mindfulness as a mediator between trauma exposure and mental health outcomes: Results from the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 13(2), 223–230. https://doi-org.ruby.uhv.edu/10.1037/tra0000995

To seek care with us – please call 972-332-8733.

 

Identifying and Treating Race-based Trauma

Identifying and Treating Race-based Trauma

Statistics indicate the United States of America (USA) is becoming more diverse and a nation of plurality. Despite statistics, USA has consistently struggled with its ability to respect, accept, and include diverse populations. Individuals of color experience direct and indirect health care disparities such as unequal access to material, social, and educational resources on a prevalent and consistent basis. They are often not able to afford health insurance, in addition, experience racist behaviors and discrimination amongst healthcare providers.

Racial and ethnic discrimination can cause negative psychological consequences that cause race-related stress and could eventually cause race-based trauma (Hemmings & Evans 2018). These psychological issues encompass feelings of helplessness, paranoia, anxiety, fear, medical health issues, numbing to their emotions, denigration of one’s sociocultural in-groups, and the onset of PTSD.

One solution is improving the health of individuals of color. Healthcare professionals would need to make better efforts to address racism when working with minorities. Research shows facilitating multiculturally competent care would require awareness of race, racism, discrimination, and how these factors contribute to subpar healthcare practices (Hemming & Evans 2018). Multicultural training within the mental health field also needs to be improved. A solution would be more effective training and treatment models for counselors to be better prepared to establish a therapeutic relationship with a person of color.

Written by Victoria Fontenot – Behavior Therapist. To seek care with us – please call 972-332-8733.

Hemmings, C & Evans, A. M. (2018). Identifying and treating race-based trauma in counseling. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, (4), 20-37. https://doi:10.1002/jmcd.12090

Offering Your Anxious Clients the Standard of Care

Offering Your Anxious Clients the Standard of Care

                              Offering Your Anxious Clients the ‘Gold Standard’ of Care

         Exposure therapy has long been supported as the ‘gold standard’ treatment for anxiety disorders. Despite strong empirical support for the effectiveness of exposure therapy, many therapists underutilize exposure therapy in the treatment of anxiety and related disorders.

Studies examining why clinicians tend to underutilize exposure therapy indicate several important factors.

These factors include:

  • Lack of appropriate training or supervision to learn these methods.
  • Holding negative or inaccurate perceptions about exposure therapy and when it is contraindicated.
  • Clinician belief that clients will reject the treatment, drop out of treatment, or that exposure therapy may cause harm to clients by asking them to engage with aversive experiences.

In summary, clinicians tend to underutilize the ‘gold standard’ of treatments for anxiety and related disorders because they tend to have little training or experience with it. A key factor in alleviating these issues is offering more training and consultation on utilization of exposure-based treatments.

If you would like to learn more about using exposure therapy in your practice:

  • Sign up for our blog, below.
  • Contact us at 972-332-8733 to join our consultation group or to set up individual case consultation.

     by Perry Leynor, LPC Associate under the supervision of Paula Maloney, LPC-S.    

Meyer, J. M., Farrell, N. R., Kemp, J. J., Blakey, S. M., & Deacon, B. J. (2014). Why do clinicians exclude anxious clients from exposure therapy? Behaviour Research and Therapy, 54, 49-53. https://doi:10.1016/j.brat.2014.01.004

Evidence-based Treatments for PTSD: Prolonged Exposure and Behavioral Activation

Evidence-based Treatments for PTSD: Prolonged Exposure and Behavioral Activation

Many people witness or experience some kind of traumatic event during their lifetime; however, these events affect people in different ways. It is common for people who have witnessed or experienced a traumatic event to have some difficulty adjusting and coping, but symptoms such as flashbacks and anxiety typically improve with time (Mayo Clinic). However, for some people, symptoms get worse or persist for several months or years and interfere with daily functioning, which is usually an indication of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD; Mayo Clinic). A common form of treatment for PTSD is exposure-based therapy which involves intentionally imagining the traumatic experience and interacting with people, places, or things that are associated with or related to the traumatic event (Gros et al., 2012). However, some individuals with PTSD also have symptoms of depression which sometimes persist after treatment for PTSD (Gros et al., 2012). Due to this concern, Gros and colleagues (2012) sought to evaluate the effects of a treatment package for individuals with PTSD and depression which included evidence-based therapies for each of these conditions.

Eighty-two combat veterans completed participation in the current study which incorporated exposure therapy and behavioral activation (BA)—an evidence-based treatment for depression involving planning activities that are aligned with personal values. Each treatment session was 90 minutes, and participants completed eight treatment sessions. Treatment consisted of encouraging participants to plan activities consistent with personal values—some of which involved exposure to feared situations such as shopping in a crowded mall—and writing or speaking about the traumatic event (i.e., imaginal exposure). In this way, participants used behavioral activation combined with exposure therapy. Throughout the study, participants completed a variety of questionnaires designed to assess the severity of symptoms of PTSD and depression. Overall, researchers observed improvements in PTSD and overlapping symptoms of PTSD and depression; however, similar effects were not observed for nonoverlapping symptoms of depression. The authors concluded that more research is needed to determine the effects of specific treatment components on specific symptoms of PTSD and depression, and which additional treatment components may enhance treatment effects.