Now that more and more people are being vaccinated nationwide, more people are also coming into contact with needles. For many, this is only a minor matter, but for others, it can be a major source of anxiety. This is called puncture anxiety and it's more common than you might expect.
What is puncture anxiety?
Puncture fear is the fear of needles and of being pricked. The sight of a needle can set alarm bells in the brain. This is followed by physical reactions, such as an increased heart rate and faster breathing.
Make appointments less quickly
If you suffer from needlestick anxiety, this can lead to you being less likely to make certain appointments. You avoid doctors, dentists, and vaccinations. As many as 20% of people with a needlestick fear do not dare to get a vaccination, says Elisabeth Huis in ‘t Veld. She specializes in needlestick anxiety and fainting.
In 13 percent of the cases, the agreement to have a vaccine does not go through at all. For the rest, the process takes much longer. This is because they need to be calmed down and sometimes even struggle physically.
According to Huis in ‘t Veld, such a physical fear response can also arise unconsciously. By the time a patient becomes dizzy or nauseous, it is often too late to stop it. That is why she developed a game app where you can predict a patient's chance of fainting.
Patients play a puzzle in the app while their heart rate, breathing, and sweat are measured. The selfie camera is also on. When the stress is too high, the puzzle pieces turn red. It is then up to the patient to make them blue again. This works both as a relaxation exercise and as a distraction.
How do you get over your fear of needles?
Van Buuren indicates that this is different for everyone. You can completely get rid of your fear of needles if you pay close attention to your signals. With the following tips you can get rid of your fear faster:
- Keep poking. The more often you have an injection, the greater the chance that your anxiety will decrease. If necessary, bring someone along for support.
- Look the other way if you are afraid of seeing the needle.
- If you are afraid of pain, you can ask for numbing cream.
- Try to relax by listening to relaxing music or doing breathing exercises.
- Find distraction. Ask someone to talk to you or look for special items in the area.
By talking about it with others, you can also reduce your anxiety. You hear more experiences and know that you are not alone in this.
It is normal to always feel a little tense before getting a vaccination. It's something that doesn't happen very often. Yet this tension is not unhealthy, especially if you relax immediately after the injection. Try to work towards this with the help of the above tips and you will notice that it is a lot easier.