Overcoming your fear of needles

Font Size:

The coronavirus vaccine is in the process of being rolled out across Australia. But what if, when your turn comes, you’re overcome with fear – not about the vaccine, but about the injection itself?

“We’re actually [thought to] only [be] born with two phobias, fear of loud noises and fear of falling – everything else is learned,” says Harley Street therapist Karl Rollison, explaining that trypanophobia, the extreme fear of needles, usually originates in childhood when infants experience inoculations or dental procedures. “It all starts with a needle. They can associate all this pain, discomfort and blood with something that actually isn’t that painful.”

While some people get used to jabs, for others the fear continues into adulthood. So, what can you do if the thought of needles brings you out in a cold sweat?

1. Put anger to good use

“[One of] the most powerful things for overcoming any phobia is indignation,” argues Mr Rollison, recommending that in order to get to the point where you overcome your fear, you need to feel a certain contempt for the phobia itself and the negative impact it’s having on you.

“You’ve got to actually point that at the object, which is a needle, and think, ‘How dare you affect my life this way?’ Rather than being in a victim mindset about the injection, get angry about it.”

2. Employ visualisation
The next step, Mr Rollison advises, is to use ‘associated visualisation’ before the appointment. “Visualise yourself going to have the injection, but rather than seeing yourself being injected, you’re looking through your own eyes,” he says. “Looking down at the needle, or looking away, whichever is more comfortable, but you’re feeling indifferent.”

That way you’re “creating a memory that hasn’t happened yet, and that [can] carry forward”.

3. Breathe slowly

This Is So Soothing GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

“Anxiety levels are connected to your breathing patterns,” says therapist Sam Nabil. “So, if you can become conscious about your breathing and do it deliberately with big inhales and big exhales, that is the most basic, effective way of managing anxiety about anything.”

Mr Rollison recommends breathing in for a count of four and breathing out slowly for a count of 12. It might help to imagine you’re trying to blow out a candle on the other side of the room.

4. Use distraction

Stay Home In This Together GIF by INTO ACTION - Find & Share on GIPHY

At the time of the injection, a variety of distraction techniques can be used to take your mind off the needle.

“If something like looking at the needle or if being super aware of what is going on makes you more anxious than you feel comfortable with, then start small, don’t look at the needle,” Mr Nabil says.

Mr Rollison says: “What I tell people is to grimace or to pull a really angry face or scrunch your face up or bite your lip – something to distract from what’s happening. Or visualise yourself being somewhere nice and relaxed – anything goes.”

5. Try to avoid going alone
Depending on restrictions, you may not be able to have someone accompany you for the injection itself, but a friend or family member can take you to the vaccination centre.

Go with someone who will hold your hand and act as a distraction, if possible.

If you have any concerns about a phobia that is impacting your life, always speak to your GP.

How do you feel about the upcoming vaccine? Do you have a needle phobia? Do you have a fear of any medical procedures?

– With PA

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.


Sign-up to the YourLifeChoices Enewsletter

continue reading

Health Insurance

Ageing baby boomers are missing out on health cover savings

Most older Australians see their health insurance premiums rise every year but don’t realise these high costs can be for...

Travel News

Vaccination no guarantee of open borders, says health minister

Australia's international border could remain closed even after the vaccination rollout is complete, according to health minister Greg Hunt. Mr...


The 'risk' of letting your grey hair grow out

At what point do you stop dyeing your hair and allow the grey to grow out? Is it after you...


Five running shoes reviewed

With the cooler weather, autumn and winter are arguably the best seasons to run in Australia, so it might be...


How large is Rupert Murdoch's reach in Australian media?

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd's petition to establish a royal commission into media diversity in Australia attracted more than half...


Coronary heart disease is the biggest killer of women worldwide

Heart attacks are still often seen as a 'male health' issue, yet coronary heart disease - which is the main...


Another vaccine ruled out as second blood clot case emerges

Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has announced that a second case of blood clots is believed to be linked to...

Superannuation News

Super funds fight for changes to reforms

Your Super, Your Future legislation will be enacted within three months and leading players are weighing in on the impact...