Trypanophobia is the extreme fear of medical procedures involving injections or hypodermic needles. It is occasionally referred to as aichmophobia, belonephobia, or enetophobia, names that are technically incorrect because they simply denote a “fear of pins/needles” and do not refer to the medical aspect of trypanophobia.
Trypanophobia is a term that is rarely used among medical professionals. In the United States National Library of Medicine database of medical journal articles, the term "trypanophobia" cannot be found, although the database contains several journal articles referencing needle phobia. The name that is in common usage is simply needle phobia.
Overview and incidence
The condition was officially recognized in 1994 in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th edition) as a specific phobia of blood/injection/injury type. Phobic level responses to injections cause sufferers to avoid inoculations, blood tests, and in the more severe cases, all medical care.
It is estimated that at least 10% of American adults are trypanophobic, and it is likely that the actual number is larger, as the most severe cases are never documented due to the tendency of the sufferer to simply avoid all medical treatment.
According to Dr. James G. Hamilton, author of the pioneering paper on needle phobia, it is likely that the form of needle phobia that is genetic has some basis in evolution, given that thousands of years ago humans who meticulously avoided stab wounds and other incidences of pierced flesh would have a greater chance of survival.
The discussion of the evolutionary basis of needle phobia in Dr. Hamilton's review article concerns the vasovagal type of needle phobia, which is a sub-type of blood-injection-injury phobia. This type of needle phobia is uniquely characterized by a two phase vasovagal response. First, there is a brief acceleration of heart rate and blood pressure. This is followed by a rapid plunge in both heart rate and blood pressure, sometimes leading to unconsciousness. The loss of consciousness is sometimes accompanied by convulsions and numerous rapid changes in the levels of many different hormones.
Other medical journal articles have discussed additional aspects of this possible link between vasovagal syncope and evolutionary fitness in blood-injection-injury phobias.
An evolutionary psychology theory that explains the association to vasovagal syncope is that some forms of fainting are non-verbal signals that developed in response to increased inter-group aggression during the paleolithic. A non-combatant who has fainted signals that she or he is not a threat. This would explain the association between fainting and stimuli such as bloodletting and injuries as well as the gender differences.
Although trypanophobia is defined simply as an extreme fear of medically related shots/injections, it appears in several varieties.
Although most specific phobias stem from the individuals themselves, the most common type of trypanophobia, affecting 50% of trypanophobes, is an inherited vasovagal reflex reaction. Approximately 80% of trypanophobes report that a relative within the first degree exhibits the same disorder.
People who suffer from vasovagal trypanophobia fear the sight, thought, or feeling of needles or needle-like objects. The primary symptom of vasovagal trypanophobia is vasovagal syncope, or fainting due to a decrease of blood pressure.
Many people who suffer from fainting during needle procedures report no conscious fear of the needle procedure itself, but a great fear of the vasovagal syncope reaction. A study in the medical journal Circulation concluded that in many patients with this condition (as well as patients with the broader range of blood/injury phobias), an initial episode of vasovagal syncope during a needle procedure may be the primary cause of needle phobia rather than any basic fear of needles. These findings reverse the more commonly-held beliefs about the cause and effect pattern of needle phobics with vasovagal syncope.
The physiological changes associated with this type of trypanophobia also include feeling faint, sweating, nausea, pallor, tinnitus, panic attacks, and initially high blood pressure and heart rate followed by a plunge in both at the moment of injection.
Although most phobias are dangerous to some degree, trypanophobia is one of the few that actually kills. In cases of severe trypanophobia, the drop in blood pressure caused by the vasovagal shock reflex may cause death. In Dr. Hamilton's 1995 review article on needle phobia, he was able to document 23 deaths as a direct result of vasovagal shock during a needle procedure.
The best treatment strategy for this type of trypanophobia has historically been desensitization or the progressive exposure of the patient to gradually more frightening stimuli, allowing them to become desensitized to the stimulus that triggers the phobic response. In recent years, a technique known as "applied tension" has become increasingly accepted as an often effective means for maintaining blood pressure to avoid the unpleasant, and sometimes dangerous, aspects of the vasovagal reaction.
Associative trypanophobia is the second most common type, affecting 30% of needle phobics. This type of trypanophobia is the classic specific phobia in which a traumatic event such as an extremely painful medical procedure or witnessing a family member or friend undergo such, causes the patient to associate all procedures involving needles with the original negative experience.
This form of trypanophobia causes symptoms that are primarily psychological in nature, such as extreme unexplained anxiety, insomnia, preoccupation with the coming procedure and panic attacks.
Resistive trypanophobia occurs when the underlying fear involves not simply needles or injections but also being controlled or restrained. It typically stems from repressive upbringing or poor handling of prior needle procedures i.e. with forced physical or emotional restraint.
This form of trypanophobia affects around 20% of needle phobes. Symptoms of this form of trypanophobia include combativeness, high heart rate coupled with extremely high blood pressure, violent resistance, avoidance and flight.
The suggested treatment for this form of trypanophobia is psychotherapy, teaching the patient self-injection techniques or finding a trusted health care provider.
Hyperalgesic trypanophobia is another form that does not have as much to do with fear of the actual needle. Patients with this form of trypanophobia have an inherited hypersensitivity to pain, or hyperalgesia. To them, the pain of an injection is unbearably great and many cannot understand how anyone can tolerate such procedures.
This form of trypanophobia affects around 10% of needle phobes. The symptoms of this form of trypanophobia include extreme explained anxiety, and elevated blood pressure and heart rate at the immediate point of needle penetration or seconds before.
The recommended forms of treatment for this type of trypanophobia include some form of anesthesia, either topical or general.
Whilst witnessing procedures involving needles it is possible for the phobic present to suffer the symptoms of a needle phobic attack without actually being injected. Prompted by the sight of the injection the phobic may exhibit the normal symptoms of vasovagal syncope and fainting or collapse is common. While the cause of this is not known, it may be due to the phobic imagining the procedure being performed on themselves. Recent neuroscience research shows that feeling a pin prick sensation and watching someone else's hand get pricked by a pin activate the same part of the brain 
Comorbidity and triggers
Trypanophobia, especially in its more severe forms, is often comorbid with other phobias and psychological ailments, for example, iatrophobia, or an irrational fear of doctors, is often seen in needle phobic patients.
A needle phobic patient does not need to physically be in a doctor's office to experience panic attacks or anxiety brought on by trypanophobia. There are many triggers in the outside world that can bring on an attack through association. Some of these are blood, injuries, the sight of the needle physically or on a screen, paper pins, examination rooms, hospitals, white lab coats, hospital gowns, doctors, dentists, nurses, the antiseptic smell associated with offices and hospitals, the sight of a person who physically resembles the patient's regular health care provider, or even reading about the fear.
The medical literature suggests a number of treatments that have been proven effective for specific cases of needle phobia, but provides very little guidance to predict which treatment may be effective for any specific case. The following are some of the treatments that have been shown to be effective in some specific cases.
- Ethyl Chloride Spray (and other freezing agents). Easily administered, but provides only superficial pain control.
- Jet Injectors. Jet Injectors work by introducing substances into the body through a jet of high pressure gas as opposed to by a needle. Though these eliminate the needle, some people report that they cause more pain. Also, they are only helpful in a very limited number of situations involving needles i.e. insulin and some inoculations.
- Iontophoresis. Iontophoresis drives anesthetic through the skin by using an electric current. It provides effective anesthesia, but is generally unavailable to consumers on the commercial market and some regard it as inconvenient to use.
- EMLA. EMLA is a topical anesthetic cream that is a eutectic mixture of lidocaine and prilocaine. It is a prescription cream in the United States, and is available without prescription in some other countries. Although not as effective as iontophoresis, since EMLA does not penetrate as deeply as iontophoresis-driven anesthetics, EMLA provides a simpler application than iontophoresis. EMLA penetrates much more deeply than ordinary topical anesthetics, and it works adequately for many individuals.
- Ametop. Ametop gel  appears to be more effective than EMLA for eliminating pain during venepuncture.
- Lidocaine/tetracaine patch. A self-heating patch containing a eutectic mixture of lidocaine and tetracaine is available in several countries, and has been specifically approved by government agencies for use in needle procedures. The patch is sold under the trade name Synera in the United States and Rapydan in European Union. Each patch is packaged in an air-tight pouch. It begins to heat up slightly when the patch is removed from the packaging and exposed to the air. The patch requires 20 to 30 minutes to achieve full anesthetic effect. The Synera patch was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration on 23 June 2005.
- Behavioral therapy. Effectiveness of this varies greatly depending on the person and the severity of the condition. There is some debate as to the effectiveness of behavioral treatments for specific phobias (like blood, injection, injury type phobias), though some data are available to support the efficacy of approaches like exposure therapy. Any therapy that endorses relaxation methods may be contraindicated for the treatment of trypanophobia as this approach encourages a drop in blood pressure that only enhances the vasovagal reflex. In response to this, graded exposure approaches can include a coping component relying on applied tension as a way to prevent complications associated with the vasovagal response to specific blood, injury, injection type stimulus.
- Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas). This will provide sedation and reduce anxiety for the patient, along with some mild analgesic effects.
- Inhalation General Anesthesia. This will eliminate all pain and also all memory of any needle procedure. On the other hand, it is often regarded as a very extreme solution. It is not covered by insurance in most cases, and most physicians will not order it. It can be risky and expensive and may require a hospital stay.
- Benzodiazepines, such as diazepam (Valium) or lorazepam, may help alleviate the anxiety of needle phobics, according to Dr. James Hamilton. These medications have an onset of action within 5 to 15 minutes from ingestion. A relatively large oral dose may be necessary.
In popular culture
Like other phobias, Trypanophobia has also played a part of popular culture in either TV Shows, Films, and even some celebrities have admitted to having this phobia.
Famous people with trypanophobia
- Sonny Liston, the former heavyweight boxing champion of the world, supposedly had a fear of needles so bad that he refused to go on an exhibition tour of Europe when he first got the title after being told he would need shots.
- Conan O'Brien has self-declared a fear of needles (Late Night on October 11, 2005 when offered a flu shot).
- Gerard Way, lead singer and frontman of the platinum album band My Chemical Romance, said in an interview that he is severely afraid of needles.
- Snoop Dogg has stated on his television show Snoop Dogg's Father Hood that he has been afraid of needles since the age of 4.
- Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls is terribly afraid of medical needles, and has refused to get stitches for injuries as a result of his phobia.
- Jackie Chan, the martial art action movie star who performs all his own stunts, cannot be insured due to the almost certain guarantee of injury during filming as he is terrified of needles.
- Kimbo Slice, the street fighter/mixed martial arts athlete, famous for his YouTube videos, has stated that he has a fear of needles on The Ultimate Fighter.
- In the NBC series Chuck, the title character's fear of needles is addressed in the episodes "Chuck versus the Helicopter," "Chuck versus the Ex," and "Chuck versus the Third Dimension."
- In one episode of The Penguins of Madagascar, Skipper is terrified of getting a routine shot and even after confessing his fear to his team, goes to great lengths to avoid getting one. In the end however, he confronts his fear to save Private from trying to take his shot to keep him from getting sick "or worse."
- Trypanophobia was the main theme in the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode, "This won't hurt an Ed", where Eddy learns that Kevin has trypanophobia, not knowing everyone else also has a fear of needles. Edd and Jonny are the only ones who don't have trypanophobia.
- In The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, it was revealed that Marion Moseby is afraid of needles when every member of the staff has to get a blood test.
- In the film SLC Punk!, Heroin Bob has a very prominent case of trypanophobia. This led to a cut on his hand getting infected to the point where he had to be quarantined.
- Goku from the Dragon Ball series suffers from trypanophobia as seen in certain episodes throughout the entire TV series.
- Johnny Sasaki from Metal Gear Solid 4 declared his fear of needles later in the game, which explained why he didn't have any nanomachines in his system.
- Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist shows trypanophobia in an episode of the anime when he suffered from a bout of food poisoning.
- In the TV series Monk, Adrian Monk, the title character, has this phobia among his list of phobias.
- ^ United States National Library of Medicine database (Entrez PubMed)
- ^ a b c d e f James Hamilton (August 1995). "Needle Phobia - A Neglected Diagnosis". Journal of Family Practice 41 (2): 169–175 REVIEW. PMID 7636457. http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0689/is_n2_v41/ai_17276569.
- ^ a b "Oxford Textbook of Psychopathology" by Theodore Millon, Paul H. Blaney, Roger D. Davis (1999) ISBN 0195103076, p. 82
- ^ Ellinwood, Everett H.; Hamilton, James G. (April 1991). "Case report of a needle phobia". Journal of Family Practice 32 (4): 420–422. PMID 2010743. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0689/is_n4_v32/ai_10678524/.
- ^ Rolf R. Diehl (April 2005). "Vasovagal syncope and Darwinian fitness". Clinical Autonomic Research 15 (2): 126–129. doi:10.1007/s10286-005-0244-0. PMID 15834770. http://www.springerlink.com/content/r60g85m5v2p6p21m/.
- ^ Bracha, H. (2006). "Human brain evolution and the "Neuroevolutionary Time-depth Principle:" Implications for the Reclassification of fear-circuitry-related traits in DSM-V and for studying resilience to warzone-related posttraumatic stress disorder". Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry 30 (5): 827–853. doi:10.1016/j.pnpbp.2006.01.008. PMID 16563589.
- ^ Accurso, V.; et al. (August 2001). "Predisposition to Vasovagal Syncope in Subjects With Blood/Injury Phobia". Circulation 104 (8): 903–907. doi:10.1161/hc3301.094910. PMID 12481980. 
- ^ a b Ost, L.G.; et al. (1991). "Applied tension, exposure in vivo, and tension-only in the treatment of blood phobia.". Behaviour Research and Therapy 29 (6): 561–574. doi:10.1016/0005-7967(91)90006-O. PMID 1684704.
- ^ a b Ditto, B.; et al. (2009). "Physiological correlates of applied tension may contribute to reduced fainting during medical procedures". Annals of Behavioral Medicine 37 (3): 306–314. doi:10.1007/s12160-009-9114-7. PMID 19730965.
- ^ Ayala, E.S.; et al. (2009). "Treatments for blood-injury-injection phobia: a critical review of current evidence.". Journal of Psychiatric Research 43 (15): 1235–1242 REVIEW. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2009.04.008. PMID 19464700.
- ^ Morrison, I.; et al. (June 2004). "Vicarious responses to pain in anterior cingulate cortex: is empathy a multisensory issue?". Cognitive Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience 4 (2): 270–278. doi:10.3758/CABN.4.2.270. PMID 15460933. 
- ^ Hogan, M.E.; et al. (10 February 2010). "A systematic review of measures for reducing injection pain during adult immunization.". Vaccine 28 (6): 1514–1521. doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2009.11.065. PMID 20003927.
- ^ Schramm-Baxter, J.R.; Mitragotri, S. (2004). "Investigations of needle-free jet injections". Conference Proceedings: Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society 5: 3543–3546. doi:10.1109/IEMBS.2004.1403996. ISBN 0-7803-8439-3. PMID 17271055.
- ^ Greenbaum, S.S.; Bernstein, E.F. (September 1994). "Comparison of iontophoresis of lidocaine with a eutectic mixture of lidocaine and prilocaine (EMLA) for topically administered local anesthesia". Journal of Dermaologic Surgery and Oncology 20 (9): 579–583. PMID 8089357.
- ^ Smith & Nephew. Ametop Gel information.
- ^ Arrowsmith, J.; Campbell, C. (2000). "A comparison of local anaesthetics for venepuncture". Archives of Disease in Childhood 82 (4): 309–310. doi:10.1136/adc.82.4.309. PMC 1718269. PMID 10735838. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=1718269.
- ^ a b Sawyer, James; et al. (February 2009). "Heated lidocaine/tetracaine patch compared with lidocaine/prilocaine cream for topical anaesthesia before vascular access". British Journal of Anaesthesia 102 (2): 210–215. doi:10.1093/bja/aen364. PMID 19151049. http://bja.oxfordjournals.org/content/102/2/210.full. Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
- ^ Stewart, J.E. (May 1994). "Diagnosis and treatment of phobia". Professional Nurse 9 (8): 549–552. PMID 8008769.
- ^ Shabani, D.B.; Fisher, W.W. (Winter 2006). Woods, Douglas W.. ed. "Stimulus Fading and Differential Reinforcement for the Treatment of Needle Phobia in a Youth with Autism". Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis 39 (4): 449–552. doi:10.1901/jaba.2006.30-05. PMC 1702338. PMID 17236343. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=1702338. 
- ^ Dental Fear Central. Blood-injury-injection phobia, fainting, and applied tension.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
trypanophobia — noun An irrational fear of medical procedures (such as injection) using needles … Wiktionary
trypanophobia — A fear of injections or inoculations … Grandiloquent dictionary
-phobia — The English suffixes phobia, phobic, phobe ( of Greek origin: φόβος/φοβία ) occur in technical usage in psychiatry to construct words that describe irrational, disabling fear as a mental disorder (e.g., agoraphobia), in chemistry to describe… … Wikipedia
List of diseases (T) — A list of diseases in the English wikipedia.DiseasesTOC T Tc* T cell immunodeficiency primary * Tabatznik syndrome * Tachycardia * Taeniasis * Takayasu arteritis * Talipes equinovarus * Tamari Goodman syndrome * Tang Hsi Ryu syndrome * Tangier… … Wikipedia
Specific phobia — A specific phobia is a generic term for any kind of anxiety disorder that amounts to an unreasonable or irrational fear related to exposure to specific objects or situations. As a result, the affected persons tend to actively avoid direct contact … Wikipedia
Syringe — A typical medical syringe with needle A syringe is a simple pump consisting of a plunger that fits tightly in a tube. The plunger can be pulled and pushed along inside a cylindrical tube (the barrel), allowing the syringe to take in and expel a… … Wikipedia
List of psychology topics — This page aims to list all topics related to psychology. This is so that those interested in the subject can monitor changes to the pages by clicking on Related changes in the sidebar. It is also to see the gaps in Wikipedia s coverage of the… … Wikipedia
Hypodermic needle — A hypodermic needle is a hollow needle commonly used with a syringe to inject substances into the body. They may also be used to take liquid samples from the body, for example taking blood from a vein in venipuncture.A hypodermic needle is used… … Wikipedia
Pugad Baboy — Infobox comic strip title= Pugad Baboy caption= Cover of Katorse (2002), the 14th compilation of Pugad Baboy, which features all major characters of the comic strip series. author= Pol Medina, Jr. url= http://www.pmjunior.com.ph rss= atom= status … Wikipedia
Intravenous drug use (recreational) — Shoot up redirects here. For the shooting video game genre see Shoot em up. Intravenous drug use refers to intravenous injection of recreational drugs (e.g., heroin, cocaine, amphetamines). History IV drug use is a relatively recent phenomenon… … Wikipedia