Fear of needles (belonephobia): causes, symptoms and treatment

One of the main reasons for taking psychological therapy is phobic disorders, and among these, one of the most common fears of needles. In fact, some studies claim that up to 10% of the population suffers from this phobia.

While it is true that needles can cause pain if used violently, needle phobia or belonophobia is characterized by the person suffering from irrational terror and great anxiety which can become disabling.

Bellonephobia, for example, prevents an individual from going to a health center because of the unreal fear he feels towards these objects. One of the characteristic symptoms of phobias is that the phobic individual tries avoiding the stimulus that is causing you this disturbing reaction.

In this article, we will delve deeper into the features of fear of needles and consider their causes, symptoms and consequences.

    What is the fear of needles

    For many people, fear of needles only shows up at specific times, for example, when they need to be vaccinated. However, for other people it may appear more frequently, imagine when someone has diabetes and needs to inject insulin.

    The fear of needles is a phobia, and therefore belongs to the group of anxiety disorders. It is an intense, irrational and persistent fear of certain situations in which the phobic stimulus may be present, namely needles, but also syringes and the possibility of receiving injections, such as trypanophobia or fear of injections.

    Belloneophobia is also often associated and often confused with fear of blood (hematophobia) or fear of sharp objects (aicmophobia). Of course, these people do not necessarily feel the fear of blood and other sharp objects, which distinguish between bellonephobia, aichmophobia and hematophobia.

    This type of phobia belongs to specific phobic disorders which are generally fears of certain objects or situations. For example: cats, spiders, snakes or the fear of flying.

      the causes

      Phobias are generally learned fears. These fears are developed by a type of associative learning called classical conditioning after a traumatic event. For example, after having had a bad experience with needles.

      In fact, the scientific community supports the idea that phobias are learned, and one of the personalities who has contributed the most in this regard is John Watson, An American psychologist who in the 1920s caused a boy named Albert to develop an irrational fear of a white rat he had previously worshiped.

      The purpose of the experiment was to observe the emotional reactions of the child, who first played with the animal in a normal way. However, throughout the sessions, the rat presented itself with a loud noise that frightened the little one. After several presentations of the two stimuli together, little Albert developed fear in the rat even without the presence of loud noise.

      If you want to know more about this type of learning, you can read this article: “Classical conditioning and its most important experiences”.

      Other causes of this phobia

      But phobias they can also learn by observation, In what is called vicarious conditioning. In other words, the person may see a person screaming when giving them an injection and may develop a strong fear of needles.

      Other authors claim that humans are biologically predisposed to phobias because fear is an adaptive emotion that has been key to our survival because elicits a fight-or-flight response. This is why fear has to do with the primitive areas of the brain and develop through primitive and non-cognitive associations. In other words, they are not modifiable by logical arguments.

      Symptoms and signs

      This type of phobia can appear in different situations. For example:

      • See needles
      • By having contact with nurses and doctors
      • In case of pain and anticipation of injections
      • During the visit to the dentist
      • Be near a medical center or hospital
      • When using clothespins
      • Watch needles on TV
      • The smell of antiseptic reminiscent of a hospital

      When the person suffering from this phobia is in any of these situations, they experience a number of cognitive, behavioral and physical symptoms. They are as follows:

      • cognitive symptoms: Irrational thoughts, anxiety, anxiety, extreme fear, thoughts of near death, confusion, lack of concentration, etc.
      • behavioral symptoms: Try to avoid the dreaded stimulus.
      • physical: Headache, shortness of breath, stomach pain, nausea, dizziness, etc.

      Treatment of belonephobia

      Although this type of phobia is very common, it also has a high success rate in terms of treatment, according to scientific studies. There are different psychological therapies that work, but the most widely used is cognitive behavioral therapy.

      This form of therapy uses different techniques, and to treat phobias, relaxation techniques and exposure techniques are the most effective. One technique that combines the two is systematic desensitization, which involves gradually exposing the patient to the phobic stimulus, but before that, he or she must have learned different coping strategies, such as the aforementioned relaxation techniques.

      Other very effective types of therapy they are cognitive therapies based on mindfulness or therapy of acceptance and engagement, which belong to the third generation therapies. If you would like to know more about these therapeutic methods, you can read the article “What are third generation therapies?”.

      New technologies and phobias

      New technologies are also being used to improve the quality of life of people with phobias. Online therapy is used more and more, And virtual reality has proven to be very effective as an exposure method. In fact, there are even different mobile apps aimed at helping people with phobic disorder.

      You can find out more in the article “8 applications to treat phobias and fears of your smartphone”.

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