Hemophobia is fear in the blood and, possibly due to evolutionary factors, it is a fairly common fear. But, despite being adaptive, the truth is that it can lead to many inconveniences and a high level of discomfort in a person’s life.
Not being able to see blood at all, both foreign and your own, can prevent you from going to the doctor or in situations that are necessary, such as the dentist. It is for this reason that it takes a lot to know how to overcome fear in the blood and improve their lives a bit. Let’s see below.
What is hematophobia?
Hematophobia is a relatively common fear, which is to feel a real panic in the blood or, at the very least, to imagine. People who experience this fear are afraid of places they may see it, such as going to the doctor, dentist, or surgeon, having to have a transfusion, or simply being able to have a wound, no matter how small. . It is believed that, to a greater or lesser extent, 40% of the general population is afraid of blood.
We don’t know what the fear of blood is due to. The hypothesis that this is something by proxy has been investigated, learned by seeing fear in the blood of relatives or friends. We also talked about the idea of genetics, because from an evolutionary point of view it makes sense to think that when we see blood we run away from it, lest our physical integrity be endangered.
Although blood is not seen every day, unless you are a doctor or similar professional, the truth is that being afraid of this fluid can have a profound effect on our lives. The hematophobic person can avoid taking daily measures, which in the long run will significantly reduce their freedom.. In addition, her health may deteriorate by avoiding going to the doctor because, although she knows she may have a serious medical problem, she fears the simple fact of having to do with her own blood.
As with most phobias, those who are afraid of blood usually have these symptoms: anxiety, panic attack, cold sweats, pallor, dizziness, loss of strength, fainting, tachycardia, fear of a heart attack, tremors, shortness of breath, hyperventilation, negative and irrational ideas about the event, need to get out of the situation,
however, hematophobia differs from other phobias in the way its response is given, which is biphasic. That is, before the phobic stimulus, in this case the blood or situations related to the same, a two-phase response occurs.
The first phase comes directly after seeing the stimulus. is the consequence of the immediate impression on the visualization of the blood, and assumes the typical anxiety response: Increased heart rate, nervousness, hyperventilation, sweating …
But then comes the second phase, which is a sudden and sudden drop in vital signs. Our blood, paradoxically, stops circulating to the periphery, giving the hands a feeling of loss of strength. As the blood flow is lower, it can cause fainting.
Due to the symptoms that manifest in this second phase, treatments aimed at overcoming fear in the blood try to prevent the person from being accidentally injured when the phobic stimulus occurs.
How to overcome fear in the blood, step by step
Among the treatments to overcome fear in the blood, there are two techniques that are gaining more importance and effectiveness for this phobia: the technique of applied tension and exposure, within cognitive-behavioral therapies.
Applied tension technique
The technique applied against stress is particularly useful for the treatment of hematophobia. Again it is best to use it in consultation with a psychologist, Who will direct the patient and give him instructions, the advantage of this technique is that it can be done at home or elsewhere, as nothing more than a chair is needed.
This technique is strongly recommended especially to avoid the symptoms of the second phase of the blood response, in particular fainting. In the event that fainting cannot be avoided, at least the person will be prevented from injuring themselves, as they will be seated when this occurs. The technique consists of the following steps:
1. Sit down
While we were chatting, the appearance of blood and the onset of the phobic response may produce, after a certain time, a sharp drop in the constants, Which puts the person at risk of fainting.
It is for this reason that, in case the answer begins, it is very important that you surprise us sitting down.
2. Press hard
It is a simple but very useful action. It consists of clenching the fists by placing them on the legs, As if we had something in our hands that we would like to do away with, compress. We will hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
The tension of the previous step is reduced, but without reaching a state of total relaxation. This step lasts about 15 or 20 seconds.
4. Tension in the legs
While remaining seated, we make strength with the soles of our feet against the ground, At the same time hugging the knees together.
We rest our legs, as if we were relaxing them, to stay between 15 and 20 seconds in a state of relaxation.
6. Prepare to get up
We put ourselves in a position as if we are about to stand up. We will lift the buttocks off the chair and avoid exerting force with the soles of the feet. The arms will not be supported.
While a bit odd, this step just allows us to activate but in a normal, adaptive, and non-strained manner.
7. Relax again
We try to relax again after making the gesture of pretending to stand up.
We’re contracting all the muscles we’ve used so far, but all at the same timeAs if we were tense, only that it will help us to be in a state of complete relaxation once we have completed the exercise.
9. Last relaxation
We relax the whole body.
For the applied tension technique to be useful, it must be practiced frequently. This way, the technique will be automated in response to the phobic stimulus, Without having to put too many cognitive resources in the application of the same.
For this reason the technique must first be applied as part of a psychological consultation, Make sure, with the recommendations of the psychologist, that we do it correctly and that we gradually internalize it.
As with other phobias, hematophobia uses the exposure technique which it consists in exposing the person to images in which we see blood, Videos of surgery or injuries or directly watch the royal blood.
This technique cannot be applied abruptly. First, a hierarchy of phobic stimuli must be established, ranging from the simplest and less phobic to the more complex and more phobic. Treatment cannot be started in a person with hematophobia by open heart surgery.
The idea is that step by step the person will get it decrease your anxiety and associated symptoms such as palpitations, tremors and excessive sweating, Gradually.
You can start with pictures of small wounds, videos showing simulated cuts, drawings with very schematic people in red puddles … Very simple things that let you flatten the ground for more phobic things.
Then advanced therapy, and depending on whether the psychologist deems it appropriate or not, the patient may be accompanied to the doctor for a blood transfusion or analysis, Or even see if you can attend an intervention serious surgery.
If you are trying to get the person’s blood drawn, since the arm must be relaxed during the venipuncture (venipuncture), this is a great time to perform the applied tension technique.
- Borda Mas, MdlM, Martínez, O. and Blanc Picabia, I. (1998). Effectiveness of the applied tension technique for the control of vasovagal syndrome applied to a case of hematophobia. Journal of Psychopathology and Clinical Psychology, 3 (1), 39-53.
- Pinel, L. and Rodó, MM (2014). Approaching hematophobia and its various lines of research, Clinique et Santé, 25, 75-84.