Trypanophobia is the intense fear of needles. Specifically, people with trypanophobia fear needles in medical settings. They may avoid getting vaccines, blood draws or intravenous (IV) fluids. Although needle phobia is common, it can have severe consequences if it causes you to avoid or delay medical care. Treatment can help.
Trypanophobia (trih-PAN-o-foe-bee-uh) is the overwhelming, extreme fear of medical procedures that involve needles. It's closely related to phobias of needles, pins or sharp objects. But people with trypanophobia specifically fear needles in the medical setting.
Needle phobia is a type of specific phobia. Intense trypanophobia can interfere with your life. A severe fear may cause you to miss necessary doctor’s appointments or follow prescribed treatments.
A few factors can increase your risk of developing trypanophobia. These include:
Trypanophobia is most common in children. Some research shows that up to 2 in 3 children fear needles.
Many people grow out of trypanophobia, but many adults still fear needles. According to some reports, up to 16% of adults avoid getting vaccines because they're afraid of needles. Other studies show that up to 1 in 10 adults struggle with needle phobia.
Experts don’t always identify a single cause of trypanophobia. Different people may be afraid of specific aspects of needles or injections. People may have:
People with trypanophobia have intense anxiety at the sight or thought of a procedure involving a needle. Sometimes, this anxiety is so severe that it's debilitating. It may lead to a panic attack (a sudden wave of anxiety that causes physical symptoms).
Needle phobia may cause people to avoid or even run away from medical care. Other signs of trypanophobia may include:
Healthcare providers use the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Needle phobia is a type of specific phobic disorder, blood-injection-injury type, in the DSM. A provider may diagnose trypanophobia if you have intense fear or anxiety when you see a needle or need an injection.
Your provider may ask questions to assess the severity of your fear of needles. Your provider may want to know:
There's no single way to treat trypanophobia. You may need to try multiple strategies to lessen trypanophobia symptoms. Your provider may recommend:
For many people, trypanophobia never goes away completely. You may learn to use coping strategies that lessen symptoms. You may:
Untreated trypanophobia can have severe consequences. The fear may cause you to delay or forego necessary medical care.
If you have a chronic health condition, avoiding medical care can significantly increase your risk of health complications. In medical emergencies, delaying or avoiding medical care can even lead to death.
With treatment, many people can manage trypanophobia symptoms. Therapy or medication may help decrease anxiety enough that you can receive medical treatment.
You might want to ask your healthcare provider:
If you feel extreme anxiety every time you see a needle or think about an injection, you may have trypanophobia. Often, people with this phobia have symptoms when they know they need to get an injection or blood draw. They may feel dizziness, nausea or heart palpitations.
Typically, needles are the only trigger for this fear. If you have extreme anxiety symptoms at other times, your symptoms may relate to another condition.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Trypanophobia is the extreme fear of needles. Specifically, people with this phobia feel afraid of getting injections or blood draws. Although trypanophobia is common, it can significantly interfere with your life. People with intense needle phobia may delay or avoid necessary medical care. With treatment, you can learn to manage anxiety symptoms so that you experience fewer disruptions to your life.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/12/2022.
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