Blood and Needle Phobia Treatment
Many people experience a fear of blood, needles, and doctors. As many as 15% of people experience a dramatic decrease in blood pressure at the mere sight of blood, even if it is not their own blood. This is thought to be an evolutionary response, as a drop in blood pressure decreases the likelihood of loss of blood in the event of a serious injury. However, a rapid drop in blood pressure can result in fainting, which is one of the factors responsible for the development of a blood phobia. Because people can become frightened when they faint, they may learn to fear fainting in a doctor’s office, and by extension learn to fear blood, needles, or the doctor’s office itself.
Unlike with other phobias, the possibility of fainting is a factor which must be targeted as part of treatment. There is a simple solution to avoiding fainting at the sight of blood. During CBT treatment for blood phobia, the client is trained in a technique called applied tension, which temporarily increases blood pressure, thus significantly reducing the likelihood of fainting. With increased control over whether or not they will faint, people feel more comfortable and more willing to engage in exposure exercises later in treatment.
During treatment for blood and needle phobia, clients initially identify fears that arise when triggered by blood, doctors, dentists, or injections. They then learn ways to challenge the automatic assumptions they have, allowing rational thought to replace emotional reasoning. Once clients feel more comfortable with these situations due to having cognitive coping strategies, they then create a list of different triggers which is used in the creation of a hierarchy of feared situations. By rank ordering the items they fear from least anxiety provoking to most anxiety provoking, they can systematically conquer their fears by putting themselves in contact with their fears, starting from the easiest, and working their way up to the most difficult.
Cognitive behavioral therapy for blood and needle phobia is a highly effective treatment, with approximately 90% of clients completely overcoming their phobia by 10 sessions. At Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Los Angeles, we specialize in treatment of anxiety disorders, including phobias. Call or email today to schedule an appointment.