Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

What is Trypanophobia or Fear of Needles?

Trypanophobia or fear of needles affects a significant portion of the population ranging from 3.5% and extends to about 10%. People are extremely afraid of the needles being injected into their body. Likewise, they are also affected by the sight of pins especially children who refuse to take the vaccination. Adults too suffering from the problems act impulsively and are very scared. Individuals who have a trypanophobia or fear of needles immediately become anxious that might sometimes result in a panic attack.

As a result of trypanophobia or fear of needles, people may not be able to focus on work as they are persistently anxious. In addition, social interaction suffers leading to the destruction of the personal life.

Trypanophobia or Fear of Needles

How Common is Trypanophobia or Fear of Needles?

The trypanophobia or fear of needles is quite evident in kids. As far as the adults are concerned, the phobia takes root in childhood and carries over to later years. According to the recent survey, 10% of the general population is affected with trypanophobia or fear of needles. Of the 10%, 20% of the people do not take any medications as they continue to ignore the symptoms of the disease that involve phobia of injections as well as needles.

Triggers of Trypanophobia or Fear of Needles

An individual with trypanophobia or fear of needles does not need to be physically present in a doctor's chamber to experience anxiety or panic attacks. There are numerous triggers in outside world every day that might lead to an attack through an association. Some of these stimuli include:

People suffering from the trypanophobia or fear of needles do not need to attend the doctor to have the anxiety attack. On the contrary, various reasons in the daily leaves could automatically lead to panic and other health issues. Triggers are enumerated as follows:

  • Sight of blood, watching needles can trigger an anxiety attack in the patients with trypanophobia or fear of needles.
  • After seeing the nurses.
  • Getting injured.
  • Seeing the doctors.
  • Visiting the dentists.
  • Sight of hospitals.
  • Using paper pins.
  • Wearing hospital gowns.
  • Using white lab coats.
  • Using examination rooms.
  • After reading scary stories.
  • See needle in real time or on TV.
  • Peculiar antiseptic smell reminding of the hospital.
  • Seeing a person akin to the health care assistant.

Causes of Trypanophobia or Fear of Needles

Although trypanophobia or fear of needles exists, it is vital to segregate the conventional fear of the kids from the actual phobia of the needles. Children crying or trying to run away from the needles is pretty normal but it doesn't in anyway hampers the day to day life. On the other hand, the syndrome actually leads to anxiousness and also extreme distrust towards the needles.

There are various causes of trypanophobia or fear of needles put forward by the doctors:

  • Injections do not suit the majority of the people. The victims of trypanophobia or fear of needles would have a really scary first-time experience of the needles. Kids who get an injection from doctors that are complete strangers normally get frightened easily. They are not able to comprehend that the parent does not make any effort to protect them from injections and ensuing pain.
  • Sometimes parents or even the care assistants could become the reason to cause issues of injection among the kids. Often they go overboard with the instructions of keeping a safe distance from the needles. Too much of precautions would lead to the creation of trypanophobia or fear of needles.
  • Kids get affected by the adults who are fearful of injections as they are of impressionable age.
  • If the kids have seen an adult getting an injection and dying, the image sits in the brain and can affect the psyche forever.
  • Generally, people get trypanophobia or fear of needles when they are diagnosed with a serious disease after the blood is taken. Also, the phobia sets in when they hear the unfortunate demise of friends after seeing needles. The incidents can affect the psyche to a great extent.
  • Some of the causes may include activity to draw blood, fainting or the increase of the heart rate. Few people faint more often than not in public, therefore they prefer not to see needles.

Signs and Symptoms of Trypanophobia or Fear of Needles

Majority of phobia symptoms can either belong to physical or even physiological category

  • Fainting or nausea at the sight of needles
  • Sudden increase in blood pressure or the spurt in heart rate
  • Difficulty in breathing accompanied by tremor and other symptoms related to trypanophobia or fear of needles.
  • Anxiety attack when the individuals do not how to get the needles out of sight
  • Sometimes people cannot differentiate between needles or the pain of death. As a result, a deep phobia sets in the minds of the person.

In addition, people are also impacted by the sight of blood or even gore to get phobia of needles.

Risk Factors for Trypanophobia or Fear of Needles

Following factors are responsible for enhancement of the risk:

  • Early impressionable age is a risk factor for trypanophobia or fear of needles. Usually kids outgrow the fear, but some may not.
  • If any person in your relation has trypanophobia or fear of needles, it is highly likely that you might contact the same. It has been noticed that kids minutely analyze the phobia of adults towards certain objects or substances and quickly learn it.
  • People who have a negative attitude or suffering from bad temperament might get affected by the phobia towards needles.
  • Sometimes, people get trapped in a malfunctioning elevator and the incident leaves a huge impact on the psyche leading to the creation of phobia.

Complications of Trypanophobia or Fear of Needles

Trypanophobia or fear of needles is not a standalone syndrome but may also lead to severe complication in the later parts of life:

  • People may try not to visit places out of the fear of phobia. As a result, they might suffer a drop not only in their academic but also professional performance. In addition, when kids are not able to perform in the class, the social life might go for a toss.
  • People affected by phobia seem to be perennially under depression
  • Phobia could also metamorphose into a very high degree of substance abuse.
  • Some of the patients might commit suicide due to the long term of phobia.

Tests to Diagnose Trypanophobia or Fear of Needles

In order to check the trypanophobia or fear of needles, physical lab tests are not available but the analysis conducted is based on the interview of the patients. The physician will inquire about the symptoms and also deeply analyze the psychiatric aspects of the patient.

Patients affected with trypanophobia or fear of needles should have the symptoms that conform to the criteria set by the organization related to mental disorders. They are mentioned in the manual that is possessed by all the doctors treating the mental patients. It is necessary to get the compensation from insurance companies so that the cost of treatment is met.

Treatment for Trypanophobia or Fear of Needles

  • Trypanophobia or fear of needles could be controlled with the help of the process called systematic desensitization. In such a procedure, the patient is treated with needles in an incremental manner. As a result, the surprise element of injection goes for a toss and patients can gradually overcome the phobia.
  • Behavioral therapy for trypanophobia or fear of needles plays an important role in eliminating the negative thinking of the individuals towards the needles. Cognitive behavior therapy is also essential to transform the fearful thinking into positive thoughts.
  • Clinical hypnotherapy of the patients would go a long way in improving their health. The treatment involves the patients lying in a relaxed mode and the therapist trying to know the exact reasons of trypanophobia or fear of needles. Visualization goes a long way in making the patients act in a positive way.
  • Trypanophobia can benefits lot from breathing deeply and performing meditation on a regular basis. In addition, doctors also advise muscle relaxation exercises.

Trypanophobia or fear of needles might affect the life of the people however, they can use simple techniques to overcome the symptoms and enhance the quality of living.

Prevention of Trypanophobia or Fear of Needles

Prevention of trypanophobia or fear of needles is not possible if it is genetic. Adults with children should immediately visit a psychiatrist if they have a huge fear of any object or situation. Genetics can prove to be the undoing of the person as he or she might affect with phobia by seeing others in the family. You should overcome the fear and stop the feeling being propagated to the kids.

Prognosis/Outcome for Trypanophobia or Fear of Needles

Phobias could snowball into a major threat and might even cause the loss of life of the patients. Trypanophobia or fear of needles has been fatal to some people. Patients have suffered low blood pressure due to the vasovagal shock that might also cause death.

Cognitive therapy would go a long way in transforming the lives of the patients. It might take a long time for the positive effects to take place. If the condition is serious, it may require few months for the patients to recover from the syndrome. Some people respond positively to the treatment in an easy and hassle free manner.

Coping with Trypanophobia or Fear of Needles

Professional help plays an important role in eliminating trypanophobia or fear of needles so that the patients recovers at a faster rate. People can use homemade strategy to combat the issue.

  • People should face the scary situation head on. Talking help of friends as well as doctors would do a whirl of good.
  • Subscribing to support group is essential because people can share their experiences and overcome trypanophobia or fear of needles.
  • You should take medicines under the strict supervision of the doctors. Before stopping, you are required to talk to the medical; consultants on the same. Discuss the after effects with doctors.
  • It is vital to rest and consume healthy food without any problem.

Helping your Child Cope With Fears

Kids are especially scared of darkness or even monsters. As they grow old, the fear disappears but if it doesn't go away and hampers daily life, it is time to take advice from the doctor.

You should take following steps to rectify the situation

  • Have an open discussion with the child. It is important not to make fun and listen to the issue seriously. A helping hand would do whirl of good on such issues.
  • Parents should eliminate the problem of phobia from the mind of the children. If the kid has a phobia for dogs, refrain from avoiding but take him gradually to the animal.
  • You should always be near to the kid when he or she is touching the dog. Gradual interactions will go a long way in overcoming the fear.
  • Adults should set an example before the children. They should confront the scary situation that might inspire the child. Initially, you can show fear and then go on to display the techniques used in eliminating them.

Recovery Period/Healing Time for Trypanophobia or Fear of Needles

As far as recovery is concerned, it depends on the patient and extent of the phobia. The issue of recovery time can be discussed with the doctor. It is vital to know whether the trypanophobia or fear of needles would recur later in life.

Famous people with Trypanophobia or Fear of Needles

There are many celebrities who were suffering from the trypanophobia or fear of needles.

  • Amazing Kimbo Slice.
  • Jackie Chan the famous Hollywood star.
  • Impeccable Gerard Way.
  • Snoop Dogg, the famous singer.
  • Legendary Alice Cooper.
  • Irresistible Derrick Rose.
  • Actor Sonny Liston.
  • Singer Conan O'Brien.
Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: May 8, 2017

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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