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Naomi asked...

I have a severe phobia to needles...

I have a severe phobia to needles which has gotten increasing worse over the years. When anyone discusses severe injuries or needles I feel myself feeling dizzy and nauseous and have to stop myself from feinting. I'm not sure how to prevent this as I have tried breathing exercises etc but nothing seems to calm me down! More recently I have been suffering from spaced out feelings whenever things like this happen or when I become anxious about eating or being in hot places.

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The answer

We thank you for your question about your needle phobia. It can be very distressing when we develop a phobia. A phobia is a form of an anxiety disorder; some of the symptoms of a phobia include the symptoms that you have described and some people may also experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Choking
  • Hot flushes
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Pins and needles
  • Tightness in the chest

You have described that even thinking about your phobia can lead you to have a ‘spaced out’ feeling. For some people, even just thinking about their phobia can generate some of the symptoms of anxiety. When this thinking about our phobia causes physical symptoms we experience what is known as ‘anticipatory anxiety’.

The main treatment for dealing with your needle phobia would be cognitive behavioural therapy. With cognitive behavioural therapy, a psychotherapist or counsellor will try to ‘desensitise’ you to your thoughts and behaviours that are helping to create your phobia.

In some instances, if your general practitioner believes there to be an anxiety disorder present, then medications such as antidepressants, beta-blockers or tranquilisers may be offered. We would suggest a review with your general practitioner as to what is the best management approach for your needle phobia. With time, patience and cognitive behavioural therapy - many people are able to reduce the impact of phobias on their lives and improve their quality of life.

We hope that this information has helped.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses