The blood phobia or hematophobia is the fear and the avoidance of situations that involve a direct or indirect exposure to the blood, injections or wounds.
People who have a phobia of injections, blood or wounds have different physiological reactions to those with other types of phobias.
There is a vasovagal response to blood or injections, which causes a sudden decrease in blood pressure and the possibility of fainting.
The person develops the phobia by being able to develop this response.
On the contrary, in other types of phobias, there is an increase in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, blood pressure and heart rate.
If avoidance of the situation does not occur, the person has the possibility of fainting by the decrease of heart rate and blood pressure.
Because blood phobia is common, it has been frequently exploited in popular culture; Scary movies or Halloween.
Symptoms of hematophobia
- Decreased heart rate.
- Decreased blood pressure.
- Possibility of fainting.
- Anticipatory anxiety to exposure to blood.
- Gastrointestinal problems derived from stress.
The prevalence of this phobia is high; of 3-4.5% of the population and is given more in women (55-70%).
The age of onset of this type of phobia usually occurs from 5 to 9 years. The course is usually chronic and untreated usually worsens.
People with a blood phobia have a stronger family component than any other type of phobia.
The blood phobia is often caused by a traumatic experience in childhood or adolescence.
Although believed to also have a high familial component, a study with twins suggested that social learning and traumatic events are more important factors.
Some people with hematophobia also have phobias to doctors or dentists, as they can associate the field of medicine with the blood, particularly by television and movies.
In addition, it can be associated with hypochondria (believing that you are suffering from a disease) and nosophobia (exaggerated fear of contracting diseases).
The approach to treatment is similar to that of other phobias:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy: Be aware of thought patterns that create fear of blood. Negative thoughts are replaced by positive ones. Other aspects that can be included are journal writing and relaxation techniques. Although this therapy is less harsh than desensitization, it is less effective.
Systematic desensitization: learn to cope with the negative emotions associated with the sight of the blood.
Exposure: it is about exposing the person to blood so that he learns to control his fear.
Possibility of medication to help with anxiety and discomfort.
Exercises of muscular tension.
To prevent hematophobia from becoming a major problem, treat it when it is detected.
It is advisable that the treatment be established and guided by a specialist.
Hematophobia can cause extensive difficulties that can limit the quality of life.
For example, if a person is afraid of blood, he can avoid having blood tests or going to the doctor for any type of screening.
In this way, the person can postpone visits to the doctor indefinitely to avoid fear.
Also, surgeries and visits to the dentist can be avoided. On the other hand, parents with hematophobia may find it difficult to heal wounds of children or their children.
Finally, the fear of blood can cause the person to limit activities that have a risk of injury, even if minimal.
You may be unable to perform outdoor activities or to play sports.
Over time, such avoidance can lead to social isolation, social phobia, loss of social skills or agoraphobia.