Trypanophobia: Fear of Needles

Trypanophobia is the fear of needles, blood being drawn or injections, and is often called needle phobia.

I am currently working with a client who has Trypanophobia. The non-phobic might imagine that this wouldn’t cause much of a problem day to day, but they’d be wrong.


Few people can say they enjoy getting injections or having their blood drawn, but needle phobia is far more than just a little anxiety around pain. People with a needle phobia are terrified of needles and symptoms can include loss of sleep, anxiety or even going to extremes (risking their life of lives of others) to avoid an injection or blood being taken.

Needle phobia, as with any phobia, can provoke physical reactions such as a sudden drop in blood pressure, palpitations, sweating, dry mouth and acting out of character.

More symptoms of needle phobia include:

  • Panic, fainting, or hyperventilating.
  • Fear of doctors / nurses hospitals etc.
  • Avoidance and reacting to watching other people get an injection or giving blood, even on screen or in magazines etc.
  • Reacting to seeing blood or veins.
  • Avoiding procedures that involve needles.

While many of us don’t have to face the needle very often in life, what if you have a health condition that requires regular blood testing? 

1 in 10 people in the UK suffer with a fear of this kind. How do you have dental work or manage Diabetes? Perhaps you are due to have an operation, how will an anaesthetist administer the anaesthetic? Fear of needles can affect expectant mothers, causing stress to her body and the unborn child.

Some people are health conscious because certain conditions run in families, such as cancer, so regular blood screening might save your life.

Great, if you’re ok with needles and blood draws – but what if you’re not? Some people can’t watch television or films for their fear that they might see something that triggers them. It is not unheard of for sufferers to be afraid to travel in case something happens away from home and they might be required to have an injection, while others obsess about other fictional scenarios that might force them to face their fear.

Consider vaccinations, giving blood, tattoos… Needles actually factor more in our lives than we might immediately realise, well, if we are non-phobic that is. So we can see that, as with any phobia, it can really be intrusive in, if not take over, a person’s life.


Needle phobia can run in families; children of needle phobic parents might develop it as a result of learned behaviour. Traumatic experiences with needles, such as being restrained or mistreated by a medical practitioner, can contribute to the development of the condition. Some people with the phobia may have unusual pain sensitivity and fear the pain more than the needle itself. In some cases the sufferer doesn’t know where the phobia came from.



Many people hide their phobias very well, not even able to talk about their biggest fear, but it’s likely that at some time in your life you are going to need to face an injection or have blood drawn. So what are you going to do when the time comes?

Hypnosis and EMDR can be particularly effective in treating this condition, even in severe cases, for good.

Different therapists work in different ways and with great results. I help clients to regulate their reactions first, feeling comfortably back in control. We then move on to completely desensitising their response to the stimulus. This does not mean I make you face your fear, rather we work on removing the fear so when you think about it, and do indeed come face to face with it, you simply feel nonchalant.

Some therapists promise a 1 session cure, and this can be very effective in some cases. Personally, I like to be sure that the problem and all of it’s contributors have been addressed and reset, so this can take 1 session or more, it really depends on a number of factors that have aided to the build up of the phobia. It might take little longer, it might not, but the problem won’t return if we have covered every angle. We will have a better idea of how long a treatment plan will take after the first session.


Nobody deserves to live in fear and there is help available. No matter how big or small you think your problem is you deserve to be treated with unconditional positive regard and to get the help you need to lead an anxiety free life.

If you want to talk about your Trypanophobia, or any other phobias or conditions, feel free to contact me.

Published by Nancy

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