BY ANDREW MCDONALD
Needles are not something any of us looks forward to. Fortunately, unless we have an ongoing health concern, most of us don’t have to face them that often. Many people go years without having to get an injection. Then along comes a worldwide pandemic, we get the good news of there being a vaccine but the kick in the teeth is it is administered through a syringe. In fact, the only immunisation I can ever remember getting which wasn’t delivered in that fashion was for polio which came on a spoon. Personally, I preferred that but beggars can’t be choosers.
Most of us don’t like the idea of getting an injection. I definitely don’t but my fear is mild. I can think of a million and one things I’d rather do but it is something I can grit my teeth and bear.
For others though, the mere sight of a needle can be enough to induce serious stress and feelings of dread. Symptoms of trypanophobia (fear of injections) include dizziness, fainting, insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, high blood pressure, racing heart rate and running away from medical care.
If you’re one of those people, maybe you’re really keen to protect yourself against covid, particularly with the more dangerous variants developing but you can’t bring yourself to actually go through with vaccination. The good news is there is help.
For the milder end of the spectrum, being clear with the healthcare staff engaged in your vaccination can be enough to get the support you need to help you through the process. I do this with my current dentist. He is aware that, because of previous negative experiences with other dental practitioners, I’m something of a nervous patient when it comes to my teeth. He takes this into account and works with me to get me through what needs doing in as comfortable a manner as possible. Healthcare staff are trained to deal with patients who feel anxious and the overwhelming majority will want to help you as best they can.
If you’re at the more severe end of the scale, the whole idea of getting vaccinated is probably terrifying you. Talking to your GP about medication to help calm you enough to receive an injection is a good first step. Your doctor will know of a range of suitable options he or she can prescribe for you. These are likely to be a quick, temporary solution but may well be just what is needed to get you through the process.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a longer term solution, CBT or hypnotherapy are likely to provide more permanent fixes. CBT functions by exploring what causes your fear of needles and helps you to develop techinques to overcome your anxiety. Hypnotherapy works by changing your subconscious reaction to getting an injection from one of fear to one of calm and uses triggers to relax you.
With the options out there, not protecting yourself shouldn’t be one of them.